In a recent story for Time Magazine, Gabrielle Union writes about her painful path to surrogacy. She writes about her adenomyosis diagnosis and her countless miscarriages. She writes about the incredibly distressing emotions she felt when her reproductive endocrinologist told her that her best chance for a healthy baby would be surrogacy. Her story is an important one to tell. Her fertility difficulties and her feelings are representative of the other intended mothers via surrogacy that I speak to through my surrogacy blog.
My path to surrogacy was also painful. In 2019, I was pregnant with our first son, Luca. During my 24-week ultrasound, it turned out that Luca was alarmingly small for his age and that the placenta was not working properly. Luca was delivered via c-section at 25 weeks gestation but passed away after 2 weeks in the NICU. The doctors told me the chances of that entire episode happening again were high. They advised me that for my next pregnancy, I start taking baby aspirin as soon as I found out I was pregnant, and then “cross my fingers” that we get to 32 weeks gestation. My husband and I didn’t like the idea of “crossing our fingers” and that’s how we decided on surrogacy.
Unlike some other intended mothers, I accepted surrogacy with arms wide open from the very beginning. I was never really thrilled with the idea of pregnancy to begin with, even before Luca. Before becoming pregnant, I was worried about how much weight I would gain or how I would ever carry my already robust bosom around when it would grow a few sizes larger. Once I became pregnant, I couldn’t care less about my weight. Instead, I was worried about feeling healthy. I had hyperemesis gravidarum, which is extreme nausea and vomiting. Out of my 5 pregnant months, I felt like I had the flu for 4 of them. Surrogacy was expensive (~$75,000), but for us it was worth it for a healthy baby and healthy mom.
I think my hard pregnancy laid the foundation of my surrogacy passion. I believe that many people – both male and female – dismiss the trials and tribulations that can accompany pregnancy. Once you live through a hard pregnancy, you start admiring easy ones. My hard pregnancy also made me realize that pregnancies can be dangerous – very dangerous. Before my pregnancy, my blood pressure was consistently at 110/70 and for the year after my pregnancy, my blood pressure would average around 140/80. It took my body 1.5 years to fully recover from my pregnancy. Pregnancies are hard.
The trauma that led me to surrogacy is why I was so happy and grateful to find our surrogate, Jennifer. It is so hard to describe the emotions I feel when I realize that there was a woman willing to commit so much of herself to help me grow my family. After all the pain and loss that my husband and I went through, Jennifer, a complete stranger, offered her body and more than 9 months of her life to help us grow our family and heal us from our pain. It is an amazing privilege that I do not take for granted. I know how dangerous pregnancy can be and I fully appreciate the risks that Jennifer took to bring our baby into this world. Even more reason why I am so inspired by her.
I bonded with our second son, Enzo, by bonding with Jennifer. From the very beginning, I believed that my relationship and bond with Jennifer would somehow trickle down to him. One way we did this was to cook for her weekly (almost.) By investing a bit of time every week into making something for her, we are creating and baking “positive” energy, I guess you could say, that she in turn passed down to the baby. And by investing this time, we feel like we’re bonding with the baby, too. It’s not scientifically proven, but we still believe it. In addition to making food, Jennifer and I communicated with each other a lot during the pregnancy. I really enjoyed knowing what she was up to, hearing about her day and making sure she’ was okay – and everything else in between. We started this bond waaaay before our embryo transfer and I think it made the journey easier and more fulfilling. Finally, Jennifer would play a Spotify playlist that we put together, a voice recording of my husband singing some songs, and a voice recording of me reading a few books (in French, too!) via headphones that she stuck to her belly. The idea was that once the baby was born, our voices won’t be so foreign to him and will hopefully bring him comfort.
If I am telling the truth, I bonded more with Enzo than I did with Luca. My health during Luca’s pregnancy prevented me from bonding. I know that society paints this beautiful picture of pregnancy – that it is a wonderful time for a mother and baby to connect, but it doesn’t always happen. Despite what society tells me, I have to admit that having another woman carry my baby was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life.
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