Often times I hear, "Wow you are so strong!" or, "You must be so strong, I could never do something like that”. Carrying a baby that isn't mine and won't be coming home in my arms is often a hard concept for some to understand. Sometimes being told I'm so strong is a true compliment & sometimes it teeters on the cusp of discern. Which is completely understandable. Much of what we are unfamiliar with can slip into unintentional ignorance. I'm flawed by the those same attributes. We all are.
I never considered myself a strong person, truthfully. In my heart of hearts most of the time when my waters are rocky & my compass is lost I merely feel like I only hold on to survive. White knuckled & blue faced. But this road is different. I don't see it as hard, or as if I needed strength to decide to do this. Even now I don't feel like embarking on this journey took a whole lot of strength on my end. I was certain from the time I met the two handsome and nervous men that mirrored me on the computer monitor in my agency's office, that I wanted nothing more than to carry a baby for them. Sure, there were struggles. The raging hormones on IVF, the failed attempt at a transfer, a medication hiccup and a redo of our subsequent cycle. I am not unphased by the normal woes of pregnancy.
But through my surrogacy, from the beginning to my current state of seven months pregnant, the only strength present in my eyes is the unwavering strength that lies in the couple for whom I carry this child. For them and for the others like them. They may not all be a gay couple eager to make their far off dreams of having a family one day a reality. But their hearts' wish is shared just the same. Maybe they are in a different boat, yet their sails are set in the same direction. Those who have experienced the loss of a child. Those who suffer from infertility. Those that long and wish and pray for a baby of their own. The ones that have walked into the hospital to give birth & return empty handed--empty hearted. The ones who have sought out different avenues when the one they were intent on didn't unfold the way they had hoped. Be it adoption or surrogacy or fertility treatments. There. It is there. There is where the real strength lies. I've often sat and wondered what that would feel like. Imagining the pain and heartaches that tether at their heartstrings.
I'm growing this child and handing that babe back over, rightfully where she belongs. They are the strength in this. For waiting. For holding onto hope. They posses a certain strength in trusting me with their child, awaiting along the sidelines for her arrival. I sometimes wonder how could a parent be so strong through a process like this. To sit and wonder how your baby is and how they are growing and what must their sweet kicks feel like from the inside. Even with constant contact & the knowledge that we both are healthy as can be, there are countries that separate us & for them that must be so hard. My own strengths for the "hard parts" like labor and childbirth comes from the strength I know the intended parents have been holding onto for many years before the big day even arrives. It's all much bigger than myself.
It all unravels to where we sit today, now over a year into this little unborn girl's story. I’m reminded daily for the purpose of this journey when I look into my daughter's face. Her green eyes. That baby face full of round, blossoming cheeks. Full of hope and wonder and invincibility. The blonde curls that flip and climb the back of her neck and lay delicately on her ears. The smile that protrudes from that babyface, yet dauntingly childlike at almost two. The endless love she pours into my soul. When I am empty, she fills my cup up, and then some. Who doesn't deserve that kind of unfaltering, unyielding love? The love I have for her. The love she has for me. The magic that was birthing & raising & loving and mothering. That is why I am doing this. To give that gift to someone. Maybe I'll see my own strengths when this is all over & the hormones are gone from pregnancy & the rush of love and oxytocin from this experience has passed. I am proud of myself, indefinitely. But for now I meditate & focus on the strength of my newly beloved friends and the impending arrival of their dreams. I feel joy and happiness that my body can manage something so untraditional and yet so remarkable. The woman's body is a vessel for incredible sorcery. I will always honor that. I am full of support and love and a steady readiness for the next chapter, all while savoring the one we are in now.
Journalist: Kylie Foreman
Photography: Sweet Lily Photography