Sunday, January 12, 2014
Bun in a Borrowed Oven
Gestational surrogacy is a beautiful thing. Through this scientific miracle, women, who aren't able to carry their own baby, can still have biological children. Without a gestational carrier, my only chance of having more kids would've been through adoption. And, while I'm so thankful to have this option, having my bun baking in a borrowed uterus leaves my broken oven feeling very empty.
I'd been looking forward to yesterday for weeks. It was finally time to order our crib! I was heading out the door to meet my mom at the store when a wave of embarrassment came over me. I stopped to consider a thought that was rolling around my head. Maybe I should stuff my shirt with a fake baby bump to avoid the confused stares from customers and salespeople. I really wasn't in the mood for the inevitable up and down once-over I've grown accustomed to whenever I tell people I'm expecting a baby in May. I always feel the need to explain myself and then I have to listen to all the ridiculous questions and inappropriate remarks that will come when strangers feel uncomfortable with the information I've provided. I posted my dilemma on Facebook and a well-meaning friend suggested I tell any interested parties that I'm purchasing the furniture for my sister or friend as a surprise. I practically jumped down his throat when I responded, "No. I want the joy of 'having' the baby."
But, the sad truth is, I won't have anything to do with "having" the baby until she's actually here.
My mom says I should be thankful I even have this option. I'm lucky to have found Lyndsay. It doesn't matter how Baby A gets here, as long as she gets here. These are all true statements but they don't take away the huge piece that is missing from this experience.
I still can't have my own baby.
My mind shifted to a scene from one of those cheesy made-for-tv movies I watched on Lifetime last week. I had seen it before, years ago, but it took on an entirely new meaning this time. The movie was called The Baby Dance and it starred Stockard Channing and Laura Dern. Stockard and her on-screen husband were a married couple who, after something like nine miscarriages, became desperate for a baby. Laura Dern played a married woman with four children and no money, who just found out she was pregnant again. In the best interest of the baby, Laura decided to give her up for adoption and Stockard and her husband were the intended parents. So, at one point, Stockard goes to visit Laura in her trailer and she's upset to learn that the money she sent for an air conditioner, prenatal vitamins and healthy food was spent on fixing Laura's husband's truck. The two women get into an argument and Laura screams at Stockard, "Anything you can't do as a woman you can just buy!"
My heart stopped beating in my chest for a minute. Is that what I'm doing?
I can't have a baby, which is something a woman is "supposed" to be able to do. This is the hand I was dealt. Am I supposed to just accept it and move on? Am I wrong to try and do whatever it takes to have a baby with my husband? Do people think I'm buying my own baby?
I shook the negative energy from my head and drove down to meet my mom. As soon as my eyes caught sight of the virtual Babypalooza in the window, excitement took over and I forgot about the fact that I am not actually pregnant. I walked into the store and was overwhelmed by cribs and bedding and gliders, oh my! I was in my glory as I selected shades of pink, grey and white to don the coffee-colored, wooden crib. It was hot in the store but I kept my jacket zipped to conceal my small frame and missing bump. After my choices were made I chatted with the owner of the store while my mom ran to the bathroom. I had been in there many times before and had told him my story each time. When I came in that day he'd acted as if he remembered me. I told him the baby was due in May and I was so excited that it was finally time to order the furniture. He made a comment about being small and I said, "Well, I don't think I'll get much bigger unless I eat too many chips." He smiled and said, "That's what they all say until they pop. It happens to everyone." I had to hold myself back from gripping his neck with my sweaty hands. I talked myself down. He probably just doesn't remember. Chill out. Don't say anything. But I couldn't help myself, "Well, it won't happen to me since I'm not the one who's pregnant." Before he had a chance to react, my mom came back from the bathroom and saved him from anything else my mouth might have said without my brain's permission.
So now our registry is done and the crib is ordered and I still don't feel like I'm having a baby.
My baby is kicking but someone else is feeling it. My baby is growing but someone else's clothes are getting tighter. My baby's heart is beating but someone else gets to listen to it at her prenatal visits. My baby can hear now but someone else's voice is speaking to her.
I had no idea this would be so emotionally difficult for me.
I try to talk to Jimmi about my sadness but he doesn't really understand. My mom sympathizes with me but doesn't have the same day to day struggles I have. Luckily, I do have one person who gets it. Back in May, when we switched from Surrogacy Agency A to Surrogacy Agency B, the latter agency gave me Sara's name as a reference. Sara had been through a similar Hell with Agency A and had just been matched with a carrier through Agency B. As a side note, I'd like to give props to Tina and The Surrogacy Experience so I can stop calling them Tara and Agency B! Anyway, Tina at The Surrogacy Experience reached out to Sara to ask if I could contact her about her experience, which I did, and we've been friends ever since. Sara is about two months ahead of me in her journey so I was able to annoy her with tons of questions about what to expect during the all-day clinic meeting, the embryo transfer and anything else that I needed to know at the very beginning. She's been an amazing resource for me and she's expecting twins in March through her gestational carrier in Iowa.
Though we'd tried a number of times, Sara and I had never actually met…until today! Since her babies are due in a few weeks, Sara needed to pick up some necessities at Babies R Us and I offered to tag along and help her out. I'm sure it was very confusing for the customers who heard us comparing bottles or discussing sleep sacks versus swaddlers. There we were, two expectant moms who couldn't have weighed more than 115 lbs. each, walking around the store talking about what we'll need for our babies, who will be here very, very soon. I even offered advice to a woman who was shopping for her grandtwins, and was clearly lost. She tried to keep her mouth closed when I mentioned the last time I'd had a baby was almost eleven years ago, but I was getting ready to do it again in about four months. For some reason, with Sara by my side, I wasn't quite as self-conscious and I embraced my empty, flat stomach for a few minutes. After checking out, Sara and I went to dinner and talked about our babies, as any expectant moms would do, but our conversation included some unique subjects like hoping to actually make it to the birth of our children or the best way to get newborns home from halfway across the country.
Oh, what I wouldn't give to just be able to carry my baby, go into labor, give birth and drive home from the local hospital.
Venting to Sara was therapeutic for me. While she may not be as neurotic and upset over things that are out of our control as I am, she definitely knows what's going on in my crazy head. Having just one person who is going through a similar experience makes the road a lot less lonely.