I was awakened by an awful feeling. You know that feeling when you’ve started your period and you weren’t prepared for it? (Sorry, men, bear with me.) It was the warm, wet feeling that woke me up. I was startled. Had it been any other month I would have just ran to the bathroom and taken care of it. But I sat there and cried, shocked. This wasn’t good news. Because I was eight weeks pregnant.
That night still mingles in my mind like a vivid nightmare that we never awoke from. The pain has lessened, sure. But we lost a baby that night. And not much can heal that kind of hurt. Somehow though, I was determined to find a way.
This had been my fourth pregnancy. I didn’t have any trouble getting pregnant. Quite the opposite, actually. I convinced my very new husband that it could take months for me to get pregnant so we should stop birth control right away. Just a few weeks later, we were expecting our first child. Three years later we managed to get pregnant under the very awkward conditions of living in my mom’s basement. (Don’t ask.) Both my third and fourth pregnancies were unplanned. Getting pregnant was something I was good at! My pregnancies and births were smooth and uneventful. There wasn’t much explanation to my miscarriage. My body was fully capable of having a baby, the doctor assured me that I could go on to have more children if I so desired. This was a fluke. This was a very awful fluke.
After much thought, we decided we did not want any more children. We were blessed to have three healthy boys. It was enough for us. But I couldn’t shake the thought of the pain I felt that night. I have known many friends who miscarried their first pregnancies. I was able to find solace in knowing that I already had my boys. I was fulfilled in my baby making. But what about those women who had not? What about the ones who miscarried time and again? What about the women who, no matter how hard they tried, could not carry a baby? I thought about them. I cried for them. I prayed for them.
Just a few weeks later I stumbled upon a magazine article about surrogacy. It was the story of a woman who decided she would help a couple who suffered from infertility by carrying the baby for them. I was intrigued! I read that article over and over again. Later that day I told my Mom and my husband about it. I remember showing them the article and saying, “I could do that.” And my Mom looked and me and said, “You know what? You could.” My husband smirked. I was expecting an entirely different reaction. But he nodded his head in agreement. “This sounds like you.”
I dove head first into researching surrogacy. I knew I would not be able to be a traditional surrogate where they used your egg. I was completely comfortable with being a gestational surrogate, where they used invtro to place an already fertilized egg into my uterus, giving it a safe place to grow. I found a surrogacy agency and filled out the online form requesting more information. Before I knew it, I was accepted and put on the list. I was excited and nervous to find a couple that I could help.
Not long after, I received the call that a couple was interested in meeting me. We flew to meet them and fell in love. It was like the most awkward, most amazing first date ever. Hearing their story about wanting a baby so badly, hearing how they struggled for so long to get pregnant. It made my pain of my own miscarriage seem so small. It reminded me why I was doing this.
We agreed to work together and I quickly began preparing my body for invtro-fertilization. It took weeks of poking and prodding. My husband had to give me shots every single day. I was still busy being Mommy to my three boys. The shots and medicines made me tired and uncomfortable at times but we never grew weary. It was worth every difficult moment.
Finally, transfer day came. They ever so carefully placed two embryos inside me. We settled in for a long weekend of bed rest and keeping my feet up. I found out I was pregnant a few weeks later. I was late and I knew it had to be true. A pregnancy test confirmed it and we were all so thrilled! The intended mother told me they never even had a positive pregnancy test before. I was so excited to be helping her finally have the baby she longed for. Eight weeks later we attended an ultrasound to check on the baby’s progress. I was feeling sick and generally pregnant. I was excited to hear the baby’s heart beat.
As I lay on the table, my mom next to me, I heard the doctor say the words I had hoped to never hear again. “I’m sorry, but there is no heart beat.” It crushed me in a way I can’t explain. It hurt far more than hearing it about my own pregnancy ending. Everything we went through, everything we had done…it was for nothing. I could barely make the phone call that day to tell the intended parents the sad news. I felt so awful. I had failed them. My body failed them. Once again, the doctor assured me that it was not my body’s fault. I could go on to have more children. The embryo wasn’t strong enough to survive. Even so, the guilt I felt was deep and unending.
The couple considered trying again. They had two more frozen embryos. We talked about giving it one more shot. I was prepared. I was ready to prove that my body could do this. I was ready to fulfill my promise all the way through. But things don’t go as we planned. The couple decided to put surrogacy on hold. IVF is expensive. SO expensive. It was time to try another way of becoming a family. They were able to adopt a baby girl. That baby girl is now four years old and the light of her parent’s life. I am beyond happy that they were able to give a child a forever family. I am over the moon that they finally became the family they longed to be.
I still think about that pregnancy though. Was there something I could have done differently? Was it my fault? I grapple with the guilt of taking their chance to have a biological baby away from them. My mind knows it wasn’t my fault. But my heart feels the loss, none-the-less. Someone asked me recently if I would do it all over again. My answer is a thousand times yes. It was an experience that I will never forget. I learned much about myself during those months. I learned about the generosity of my husband and the heart of my extraordinarily supportive family. I learned that the love for a child grows in many different ways.
The journey to motherhood isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s lined with tears and heartache and confusion. Sometimes we try every single thing we can to make it happen. What I have learned through pregnancy, birth, miscarriage, and surrogacy is that it is worth every step. Just keep moving forward. Keep hope in your heart. Maybe you won’t become a mom the way you had planned. But if you have love in your heart to give, there is a child for you. Somehow. Someway.