~ by Kim
We're just over halfway there now, and people are noticing my bump and are quick to offer congratulations. I have to admit that I do get some pleasure in thanking them, and then telling them that it's not mine. I find it both amusing and entertaining to watch the different reactions; from confusion and questioning, and for some an understanding. It's often followed by several questions, and depending on who I'm talking to or how interested they are, the questions I get can be as varied as the reactions when they find out. I thought it would be fun to share some of the common questions I get. There are so many misconceptions about surrogacy and everyone's experiences are different, and I'm happy to share what it's like for us.
How did I know I could be a surrogate?
I didn't. It's not something that I thought I'd ever do, and truthfully would have never imagined myself doing this. It's not something that I would have ever sought out or considered doing had we not had family in this situation. I've read about people who always knew that wanted to do surrogacy, but this wasn't the case for me. I even remember during my last pregnancy with Rowan, I was so sick and feeling miserable, that at one point I even said to my husband that I couldn't imagine why anyone would ever be a surrogate...that I hated being pregnant and told him that there was not enough money in the world for me to ever do this for somebody else, as it was hard enough to even do for ourselves. He's teased me about this since, and we laugh about it now being where we're at. I still remember that day vividly. I never thought that I would be pregnant again.
It's taught me that the path you think you have laid out is not always the one you choose.
And I'm pretty excited about the path we're on.
What made you decide to do this?
We didn't make this decision lightly. It was a lot of soul searching to figure out first, if this was something that I thought I could do. Not just physically, but there is so much emotionally that comes along with it. As I look back at the beginning - I had no idea how true this would be, and I know there is even more still ahead to come.
The first thing that comes to mind for most people in thinking about surrogacy is giving away a baby, and in the beginning I was no different in my own thinking. This was one of the first things that I wondered if I would be able to do, after carrying this life inside me for 9 months. It's funny, because as you progress with this sort of journey, your thought process changes. I don't think of this baby as mine, or one that I'm "giving away." I'm so excited for them to have a baby, and instead think of it as giving the baby BACK, rather than giving it away.
One of the biggest influencing factors was my own two kids, and how fortunate I felt to have them. I couldn't imagine not having them, or having had the option to make that choice. There were also 2 people in my life, who had unknowingly said things to me that I really took to heart and played a role in my decision to do this. One was my dad, who told me that my husband's family is now my family, and around the same time but on a separate occasion, my aunt had told me that there was nothing more important than family. These are such simple statements, yet they really weighed heavily on me at the time, and I guess I took what I needed or wanted from them as we were making the decision to do this.
Choose your words carefully, as you never know how they may be taken, or what result can come from them.
....someone might end up pregnant! :)
What happened to Janelle? (Why can't she carry?)
People are always curious about this, and I get asked about it a lot. This could probably be a post in itself, but I'll try to keep it simple and share what I know.
It happened when their son was born, two years ago. The birth didn't go as initially planned, and resulted in a C-section. After her surgery, the bleeding wouldn't stop. There were multiple transfusions, (I believe they went through 38 units of blood) and they were still not able to get the bleeding under control. She was bleeding out. Her husband was told that they didn't expect her to last more than a couple of hours. Her mother was in the air - flying out from Florida not knowing what she would land to. In a last ditch effort to save her life, the decision was made to undergo a hysterectomy in hopes of ceasing the massive hemorrhage.
It saved her life. And that was the last baby that she'd ever be able to carry. She went into the Intensive Care Unit, and her husband went home with a newborn son on his own.
I remember at the time feeling so grateful for the outcome, yet devastated for them to have such a life altering event of a forced hysterectomy at such a young age; and thinking they would never be able to have more children. I was pregnant at the time with my second daughter, which made it so much more real and scary.
What do the kids think?
Rowan is not even 2, so we haven't said anything to her, as she won't remember - so that makes it easy. Lily is 4 1/2 and for the most part has been really excited about the idea of a new baby.
Telling our 4 year old...
Since we told her, there are times where I wonder how much she really understands. She's quick to tell people that there is a baby in my tummy for Janelle, but doesn't expand much more than that. There was one day we were talking about it, and she asked again why Janelle's baby was in my tummy. When I told her that Janelle's tummy was broken, we then had to go through the rest of Janelle's anatomy as Lily asked about other parts that might be broken as well, or if it was just her tummy. Another time when we were talking about it, I told her that their son was going to be a big brother, just like she was a big sister, and she got upset saying that she wanted to keep the baby so she could be a big brother too. It's hard to know what goes through her mind, but we still have a lot of time to reinforce and explain things, so hopefully it will go smoothly down the road.
How do I think I'll handle things, or feel at the end?
I only know how I'd like to feel, but honestly have no way of knowing what it will be like. Knowing that I can change someone else's life so drastically makes me feel proud of what I'm doing, and I hope that will outweigh the rest.
"Wow! I could never do that!"
This is not really a question, but I totally get it, and hear this often. Had you asked me 5 years ago, I would have said the exact same thing, and just the thought would have been completely ludicrous to me. At the same time, I don't think I could do this 5 years from now either, so the timing just worked out. Besides being geriatric in the fertility world, the kids would be that much older and I think I would feel like I'm missing out. With them being so young right now, we don't lead an exciting, adventurous life, so being pregnant doesn't really hold me back from too much.
Except from wine...definitely holding me back there.
Is the baby mine? (biological connection)
Nope. This baby is entirely theirs. Despite Janelle's hysterectomy, they left her ovaries, so this baby is 100% their own biological child. Her egg and his sperm, cultivated in a lab to the embryonic stage and then transferred to my awaiting uterus....et voila!
Am I getting paid?
No. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Canada, so it's illegal to pay someone to be a surrogate and carry a baby for you. Janelle and Joel cover any expenses that we incur that are related to the pregnancy like medications, maternity clothes and child care if needed for appointments, etc.
But I do think my karma-bank is filling up. :)
Will I want to keep the baby?
Wait....that may not sound very good.
The answer is no.
If I wanted more children, I would have them.
How will I feel about this baby in life, and watching him/her grow up?
I'd like to think that I'll feel the same way about this baby as I do about all my other friends and family's babies.
Though this baby might be my favourite.