I’m the lady who loves being pregnant. Stretch marks, barfing, bloating, episiotomies and all I think the miracle of pregnancy is fascinating and magical. The ability of a woman’s body to grow a complete person in less than a year is amazing to me, and feeling that little person kick and twirl around in your ribcage is just the best. But I never in my life want to take one of those little sleep mongers home with me again. I’ve ridden that stallion twice already, and I’m quite happy with my two little darlings who can now speak the King’s English.
Instead, I’m getting my pregger fix by growing a human for someone else. Gestational surrogacy is becoming more common in our culture, but it’s still a mystery to many who do not understand it. And while I absolutely love to talk to people about what exactly it entails, there are a few questions that might just tip a hormonal surrogate over the edge.
1. How can you possibly give up a baby you’ve carried for 9 months? That’s messed up. Well let’s see, are you afraid your long-time babysitter is going to kidnap your child one day? Doubtful. (If you are, you should probably look into switching care givers ASAP.) Most reputable agencies require surrogates to have at least one child of their own for keepsies before they can apply to be a surrogate. I think this is to ensure that they know what assholes newborns are, so they don’t have any delusions. Surrogates do form a bond with the baby like any good babysitter would. But you go into surrogacy knowing it’s not yours to keep. Plus, when you see that baby with her parents for the first time, the look on their faces makes it very easy to hand her over.
2. But come on, won’t you feel like it’s your baby? Since it’s not my baby…no, I won’t. Gestational carriers are not genetically related to the baby (unless you’re carrying for a family member. Then you just get to buy the World’s Best Aunt onesies and own that shit.)The embryos are created by the parents and/or donors, and Little Bun gets in your oven via IVF. Not by bumping uglies with the intended father. That’s the old fashioned way. Not a gestational surrogate. You don’t give a surrogate baby up; you just give them back.
3. Isn’t using a surrogate just for pretentious women and celebrities who don’t want to get fat? If those parents exist, they are the exception rather than the rule. Most people who use a surrogate are just ordinary people who had to get creative to build their family. They are gay couples, straight couples, single fathers, older couples and couples with unexplained infertility. There are women who almost died giving birth to their first child and women who lost their lady bits to cancer. The common thread is that they are all real people with the same end game. To grow their family.
4. How much are they paying you? You must be getting rich. Umm what’s your salary run these days? Matter of fact, what are your political and religious beliefs? Can I have a bite of your sandwich and your social security number real quick? In general this is a rude question to ask anyone. But the short answer is “not enough.” Medical bills are covered by the intended parents, and most gestational surrogates are paid some sort of pre-birth child support for carrying the baby. But, unlike traditional babysitters, there aren’t many women out there who can put a fair price tag on morning sickness, stretch marks, transvaginal ultrasounds, cankles, insomnia, daily hormone injections, threat of death and oh yeah…hurling a baby out of your vagina for another person. You definitely don’t go into surrogacy for the money.
5. Why don’t they just adopt? Most often this question (surprisingly) comes from people who have their own biological children. So, right back at ya. Why didn’t you adopt? Why didn’t you pull from this overflowing magical clearance bin of babies instead of making one that’s genetically linked to you? Because A) That clearance bin doesn’t exist, and adoption hoops can be heartbreaking and never-ending. B) Because some people want to see a little piece of living history continue on. That mother has a right to hope that her son gets her father’s eyes or her grandmother’s smile just as much as anyone else. A gestational surrogate just helps make it possible.
Surrogacy is most certainly a journey full of ups and downs. Rest assured that after it’s all said and done, and this beautiful baby rests sweetly in his parents’ arms, we will cry. But it’s not because we want him to stay. It’s because surrogacy is one of the most beautiful gifts we have to give. We will cry because we are overjoyed to see the miracle that we helped create. We will cry because this beautiful crazy journey has come to an end. And we will cry because we know that once those bonkers post-partum hormones calm down…we are going to want to do it all over again.
Related post: The Baby Isn’t His