Thank you so much to our guest blogger who took the time and effort to craft this special piece. We know you will enjoy this read as much as all of us did…..
“So, what do you think about surrogacy?”
That’s how my “journey” started. My wife and I had been married for about a year (maybe less) when she asked me that question. I knew it would be a big deal for her. After all, she was the one who would be pregnant, not me. I had no idea how much that question would change my life as well.
When my wife asked me that question, I was a sailor in the U.S. Navy stationed on a ship in San Diego. We were living in Navy housing on an E-5’s salary with the add-ons the military provides for service members with dependents. We were struggling as most newlyweds do in their first few years of marriage, particularly with the idea of having children. She already had a beautiful daughter from her previous marriage, but I hadn’t fathered any children yet. So, when she asked me that question as soon as I walked through the door, I had a lot of thinking to do. At the time, I’d heard of surrogacy, but I had no idea what the process entailed. I would learn very fast.
My initial response was, “It’s your body. What do you think?” or something to that effect.
I was still under the impression that the surrogate does all the work, while her spouse sits and watches. I had no idea how ignorant that was. We talked about it, about whether she was willing to have someone else’s baby, whether I was willing to put my plans for having a child of my own on hold, and how we would explain the whole thing to her 6-year-old daughter. After having a family discussion that lasted less than an hour, we decided we were okay with it.
“Good, because they already found a family for me,” my wife told me.
Whoa, wait a minute. I don’t get to ease into this? We’re just jumping into this right now?
Apparently, my wife had seen an ad in the Navy Times from Extraordinary Conceptions, a fledgling company dealing with fertility and surrogacy and gave them a call to ask them some questions. That call went so well that they wanted her on the spot. Thankfully, she asked them to hold off until she talked it over with me. She told me she would get paid for it and how much. To tell the truth, that was really attractive to me. Struggling newlyweds can pay a lot of bills with the rate a first-time surrogate makes. In the interest of full transparency, she promised me a big-screen TV, too. Okay, I was sold.
I learned very quickly that surrogacy is a lot more work than I thought, both for the surrogate and the spouse.
I had to give her a shot where? Are you sure? I’m getting too close to the sciatic nerve? Stop moving when I’m trying to put the needle in! How many more months do we need to do this? Oh, no, I hit a vein! Let me get a paper towel!
Finally, the day for the embryo transfer came, and I thought I could relax. Yes, I can hear you laughing from here. Did the transfer take? Was she pregnant? Yes, she was. With twins, no less! I had never dealt with a pregnant woman before. The cravings, the hormone changes, it was all new to me. On top of everything, I transferred duty stations from San Diego to Newport, RI, in the middle of everything. So there I was in the middle of New England by myself while my pregnant wife stayed in San Diego. Once I got settled in at my new command, I went back to bring the rest of my family to Newport. You haven’t lived until you’ve driven cross-country with a very pregnant wife and young daughter. It’s an eye-opening experience. For her last trimester, however, she returned to San Diego, and I was left to play “Mr. Mom,” something else I had never done before. I’m happy to report that our daughter is still alive and healthy. After all that, though, I was ready for my new TV.
We flew back to San Diego to spend Thanksgiving together. During that two-week vacation, my wife’s doctors decided it was time for her to give birth. She was 36 weeks along, and both babies were already at six pounds. The doctors were afraid that if she carried them any further, they would grow too big for her body to handle. An amniocentesis showed that their lungs were fully developed; ultrasounds showed that the twins were happy and healthy, so it looked like she was ready to give birth any time.
I could write a book about the experience we had between the time the doctors gave her the Pitocin and the time she finally gave birth, but I’ll spare those details for now. I will mention that when the nurse is trying to encourage your wife to push by saying, “Push it! Push it,” the appropriate response is not, “Push it real good!” If looks could kill, I would not be writing this.
Finally, the first of the twins was born. Because it was twins, the doctors worried about having to perform an emergency C-section, so the intended parents were not allowed in the operating room with us. The intended mother was doing everything she could to peer through the door to see what was going on.
During the surrogacy, I learned just what she went through to have these babies. She’d already lost so many babies due to miscarriages and failed surrogacies that she was ready to give up. Her husband convinced her to try one more time. We were her last hope at having children. If my wife did not deliver healthy babies, this mother would give up. I had the privilege of handing this woman her first baby, the baby she had been desperately wanting and praying for. Her reaction melted my heart. The look of pure joy on her face was something I’ll never forget.
I forgot all about my new TV and any other material considerations in that moment. This was why we really did this; this was why my wife wanted to be a surrogate. To be able to give this couple what they so desperately wanted to make their family complete made everything we went through worthwhile. All the stress of what we went through with doctors’ appointments, injections, moving cross-country (twice) melted away when I saw the love pour out of this new mother. I’m happy and proud to say that I handed this mother two beautiful baby girls.
To all the husbands out there: If your wife comes to you wanting to be a surrogate, support her. Get behind her every step of the way. Each surrogate’s experience is called her “journey,” and that’s very appropriate. Join her on that journey. In the end, it’s the best feeling you could ever have. During my wife’s journey, I found out that I can’t conceive children, so this was as close as I was going to come. I figured if I can’t have a child of my own, I can at least do what I can to help others have theirs.
And yes, I got my new big-screen TV.