Marisa faced a traumatic pregnancy wrought with complications and kidney damage for the birth of her first child, and doctors warned her that a second pregnancy had the potential to kill her. You can read the details here in part one and part two of Marisa’s story. Below is part three:
When we tell people that we’re expecting our next baby via surrogate, the most common question we get is, “how does that work exactly?” The short and unscientific answer is that they took my egg and my husband’s sperm, mixed them in a Petri dish and 5 days later popped the embryo into our surrogate’s uterus. Of course, it’s not really quite that simple, as I explained in my last post.
But here we are, with a surrogate 22 weeks pregnant with our second child.
Once we knew for certain that our ‘bun was in the oven’, we shouted it from the rooftops, and the response of love and support was so tremendously positive and heartfelt. Our family and friends have been nothing short of incredible, both before and after the pregnancy was official. There aren’t enough good words to say about those people in our lives who supported us during that time, just more blessings to count!
However, our biggest supporter in all of this has been our surrogate, Stephanie.
Trusting Our Surrogate
It’s a pretty foreign idea to have someone else walking around living their day-to-day life carrying your baby, while you live yours with very little control over what your surrogate is doing. For me, there needed to be a certain level of trust involved for us to feel comfortable with someone carrying our baby, and fortunately we have that with Stephanie.
She and I text each other most days, and we talk about so much more than the surrogacy journey. We discuss how she is feeling, if she has any new or disappearing symptoms, if the baby is moving, what gender we think it will be, and all of the fun pregnancy chatter. But we also share our day-to-day lives. We discuss weekend plans, funny stuff our kids and husbands say or do, their accomplishments, or what we are making for dinner.
Marisa and her family’s surrogate, Stephanie
Prior to pregnancy and while we were still in the care of the fertility clinic, I used to meet Stephanie in Toronto for our appointments and we would meet up to share a meal together and chat like old friends. The night before the embryo transfer, she and I stayed in a hotel and went out for dinner and a movie. All of this was important to me, as I didn’t want to feel disconnected from the person we chose to carry our baby.
I have heard of surrogacy being compared to having a good babysitter. You don’t ever think that your babysitter is going to keep your child, but you want to make sure that while they are in their care, you don’t spend your time worrying that they are OK. That’s how we feel about Stephanie. The life and development of our child is completely in her hands, and we don’t lose a wink of sleep over it. I think trust is the most important part of any relationship, and maybe even more so in this situation.
My husband Trent and I always say that if we had gone on a vacation somewhere and met Stephanie and her husband, we would have become lifelong friends with them. I just never expected I would love them as much as we love Stephanie and her family. I am so appreciative that it has turned out this way, and it’s comforting knowing that our growing baby is being taken care of by such awesome people.
Surrogacy Isn’t The Easy Way Out
As much as surrogacy is an amazing gift, no intended parent that I know really wants to have to take the surrogacy route. We are lucky it’s an option, but given the chance, any of us would gladly go about bringing a child into the world the good old-fashioned way. I say this in response to many people who have mentioned that they thought surrogacy was just for women or celebrities who don’t want to “ruin their bodies” or sacrifice their careers. Let me be the one to stomp on that misconception.
I’m sure that there are some people out there who have done that, but they would be the exception, not the rule. I have met a ton of fantastic and determined intended parents who have spent years trying to conceive, having multiple tests, ultrasounds and miscarriages, draining themselves financially and emotionally just trying to have a baby. I assure you that any of these women would have given anything to carry their own child. Like me, some of them couldn’t because of medical contraindications. Others have unexplained infertility. Others have some sort of immune response where their body doesn’t recognize their baby as part of their own body and won’t allow the pregnancy to carry to term. We have all experienced some form of emotional destruction or another.
The soon-to-be newest member of the Fletcher family
I am very grateful that I got to experience pregnancy and feel my first child growing inside my womb. For most of the people I have met and talked to, that is not the case, and that in itself is a loss. No one grows up imagining building their family and having someone else carry their baby for them. Pregnancy, while uncomfortable at times, is a gift, and gestational surrogacy is usually the last resort for people in these particular situations to have a biological child.
Looking Forward to the Future
That being said, we are so very happy that we were able to take this journey and add to our family. Although I would have gladly attempted another pregnancy if my doctors had have been supportive of it and if my life wasn’t endangered, once Stephanie was pregnant with our baby and things were well on their way, I felt relieved that I wouldn’t have to go through it again and recover from it again. I’m happy to say that in the 3 years since I gave birth to my son, I’ve gained back 20% of my kidney function giving me a grand total of 60% function, and I haven’t needed any assistance with treating my diabetes for a year and a half.
My son Elliott will turn 4 in November and is very excited to start junior kindergarten, or as he likes to call it “Big School,” in September. He is not-so-patiently waiting for his little brother or sister to arrive! I can’t wait to see him in action as a big brother, or to be the mom of two kids. I look forward to meeting our baby and seeing his or her sweet little face, and analyzing which characteristics came from whom. Trent and I will feel more complete as a family and we won’t spend any more time mourning the loss of a child who never existed, but was wanted so badly that it hurt.
Circumstances and outcomes often cannot be changed, so I started telling myself to trust the universe. Just do the next right thing, and it will work itself out. This has become my personal philosophy. We are looking forward to January when our second miracle baby is due, and although it wasn’t how we thought we would get there, life just had a different path for us to take. We are so excited and truly ecstatic for the opportunity!