Once I was married, it took me a while to be sold on having kids — all I wanted to do for many years was to travel, so that's what my husband and I did. We visited as many states and countries as we possibly could each year, and I was glad to watch my bucket list dwindle as the years wore on. It was only after one particularly adventurous and eye-opening trip to Amsterdam, Cologne, and Brussels that I decided we should start trying for a baby.
I didn't struggle too much with getting pregnant, despite doctors warning me about my age. However, it wasn't long into the pregnancy that I developed what was diagnosed much too late as hyperemesis gravidarum, known later as what the Duchess of Cambridge suffered with while pregnant with Prince George.
Not much was known about it other than that it was a complete living nightmare for anyone going through it. For me, this included being unable to drink water or even shower because all water smelled distinctly like sewage, being unable to get down more than one bite of chicken and a few sips of Gatorade for days at a time without gagging or vomiting, and popping a series of antinausea pills daily that frankly didn't do much to end the severity of illness I was experiencing. The sickness coupled with an influx of hormones also made me suicidal, something I had never before experienced. I admitted myself to the hospital when I hadn't peed for almost 24 hours.
After all of that, I ended up losing the baby.
Like a crazy person, I decided to attempt this again one year later with the hopes that having found the right doctor, things might actually work out differently for us. But they didn't, and we went through the same intense struggle and again lost our baby.
I determined that I neither wanted to go through hyperemesis gravidarum again nor risk another heartbreaking loss, which is why we decided to turn to surrogacy.
After two egg retrievals, we didn't end up with a ton of eggs, but as they say, it just takes one, and we are absolutely elated to be welcoming our baby girl this August via our gestational carrier.
Surrogacy isn't generally something anyone enters into lightly or even willingly; it's often after much suffering has ensued. Despite my reservations about having children, when I was ready, I was determined to succeed at carrying my own child. I had envisioned exactly how things were going to go, how I would eat and drink all organic, do yoga, and deliver the baby in my bathtub at home, presumably with the sound of birds gently chirping in the background. When we accomplish so much as women, it's a struggle to come to learn that there are things we simply cannot do, even including carry our own children. I had to make peace with this fact and realise this wasn't my strength and that someone else would be able to do this much better than I could and that my child wasn't going to be any less loved because of it.
When we accomplish so much as women, it's a struggle to come to learn that there are things we simply cannot do, even including carry our own children.
The fact is, since my husband and I began our surrogacy journey, the love for our child and for each other has grown exponentially. Our surrogate's friends and family are completely engaged in the entire process, always asking about the baby and sending their well wishes to us and our carrier. Our surrogate has a photo of my husband and me on her refrigerator, and her four young daughters keep talking about how excited they are to meet us in person when we go visit their mum for our baby's 20-week ultrasound. We exchange photos via text of our pets, and we keep each other posted on our daily goings-on, from family bugs being passed around to what everyone is getting into for an upcoming weekend or holiday.
It never occurred to us that this relationship with our carrier didn't have to mean a separation from our baby and that our relationship with her and her family was going to fulfil us in ways well beyond what we could have imagined — that our carrier could experience the beauty of our little one growing inside her and share all the wonderful moments of this baby's progression with us in a way I wasn't able to enjoy myself having been so ill and out of my body and mind.
Instead, we know our growing baby is being loved, nurtured, and cared for in a way that I physically could not provide her with before she was born. When I think of how it takes a village, this is really where it begins for us.