Growing up with an ill dad was a fact of life during my childhood. What I didn’t know at the time was the impact it would have on our family and how it would help shape some of my decisions in the future, including that of my becoming a surrogate.
While in his thirties, my dad had suffered from dual kidney failure. Then, after nearly a decade on dialysis, when I was about ten years old, one day we received the call for which he had been anxiously waiting: my dad would be getting a transplant. He was one of few back then to have received a dual kidney transplant, sadly from the passing of a three-year-old child.
My whole family wanted to meet and thank the donor’s family, but that wasn’t possible at the time. However, the selfless act of kindness from this family left a lasting impression on me. The desire to one day pay it forward was born. I had an unshakeable calling to help others.
About three years ago, shortly after my second child was born, my husband and I talked about how big of a family we wanted. We had once thought about giving back through adoption, but adoption wasn’t possible for us at the time, so we contemplated surrogacy. There was a lot to consider: Although it was my strong desire to help others, I needed to bear in mind now that I had a partner and kids to consider, so it was no longer all about me. Would my husband be okay with it? And if so, what was important for him? We discussed our kids’ ages and maturity level to understand what was about to happen. We discussed if we wanted to have more kids of our own. What if we couldn’t after this? Would we be okay with it? We also discussed how we’d manage fielding all the questions and opinions once our friends and family knew.
After we did the psychological evaluation, we then had to have another conversation that encompassed things that would be important in a contract/relationship such as the possibilities of termination, reduction, unexpected medical procedures like hysterectomy, C-sections, and more. It was important that my husband and I were both onboard once we knew the pros and cons and the impact it could potentially have not only on me but on my family as well.
My relationship with my IP began and it was a lot like dating! The funny part of this ‘dating’ relationship is that we started from the end goal of having a baby ‘together’ while getting to know each other.Once we got through that, things seemed to move along well: Four months later I was matched with a single mom, the Intended Parent (IP).
My relationship with my IP began and it was a lot like dating! The funny part of this “dating” relationship is that we started from the end goal of having a baby “together” while getting to know each other.
We got along well and I’d love to tell you that I got “knocked up” on our first try, but that wasn’t the case. It was as if the universe was now testing us both.
At first, three at-home pregnancy tests indicated that I was pregnant. But I bled and something was wrong. I feared I had lost the pregnancy. I suddenly found myself in the very shoes of my intended parent. My heart hurt. It hurt for her and for me. The hard thoughts and questions began to pop up: How could I have failed? This is what I do—I grow babies!
A few days later the doctors indicated that blood-work confirmed that I wasn’t pregnant so either the at-home tests were wrong or I had miscarried; the doctors couldn’t say for sure. There was something intense about going through these firsts while trying to be a successful surrogate for someone else that I hadn’t experienced on my own. As we both tried to comfort each other during this mourning phase, we mustered the courage to talk about next steps. We decided to move ahead.
A week before our planned second transfer, my body rejected the meds. I had to pull over at a gas station as I was driving to a class, because I started feeling abdominal pain, which kept intensifying. As I bled, my slight panic of being alone while having a sudden medical episode in a gas station were put aside as I gathered myself to continue making my way towards a three-day training.
I made the calls to my surrogacy team and was told to immediately stop all meds; our planned second cycle was cancelled. I was devastated!
Ironically, I was taking a coaching course as a student. Once the class started I was selected to be a “model student” in front of the class. My instructor coached me to connect deeply into my emotional state. It wasn’t hard because just 10 minutes before I began dealing with the loss of another pregnancy. Processing it all live, I broke down in front of 20 strangers.
As the day went on, I became mad and a thousand questions ran through my mind. Why was this happening again? Why was my body, all of a sudden, rejecting meds? Does my IP still trust me? Does she believe I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing? Am I not meant to do this? Does she want to try again? Do I?
After months of injecting myself daily, cycle after cycle, dealing with the hormones, and this whole experience having a profound impact on my family, the biggest question still remained: What next?
I looked to spiritual guidance for fortitude and direction. After surrendering to a higher power and deciding to continue, I was surprised and pleasantly delighted to know that my IP wanted us to try one last cycle. In that moment, I realized the importance of the foundation we had established in our relationship, based on trust, open communication, and overall good intent.
There was something intense about going through these firsts while trying to be a successful surrogate for someone else that I hadn’t experienced on my own.She and I were now vested in each other and I realized our bond had grown far greater than I had initially imagined it. We weren’t going to give up without giving it all we had. And so, my hat’s off to whomever coined the term “third time’s a charm” as this time not only was the cycle successful…it’s twins!
As I’m in my second trimester of the pregnancy, I reflect back on the journey thus far. I’ve discovered that as long and emotional as this process is for intended parents, it is for surrogates, too.
There’s a saying in the community: “Hurry up and wait.” It takes time, patience, and resilience to commit to the timelines and allow for the unexpected. It takes a big heart to inherently trust and believe in each other as much as it takes willpower to give up all control and let the process take its course.
Along the way, I’ve also realized that despite all the research I did before agreeing to become a surrogate, it still does not compare to actually living it. I’ve learned to compromise as well as to stand up for myself and my beliefs. It’s important to read the contract carefully!
While my IP and I have a great relationship, I still had to consider the legal and personal implications of my decisions. Certain unexpected and tough conversations came up over time–from my eating habits and my IP’s wishes to the possibility of multiples and how we each felt about that.
More importantly, I’ve learned that there is still faith and trust in the human race. I believe we all have an innate desire to contribute. Our callings just come in different ways. I don’t know what the next months will be like, but I do know how grateful I am and how fulfilling it is to have this purpose in life.
Michelle Minucci runs a life-coaching business, Stones Unturned, in San Diego (though she works worldwide). She coaches individuals whom are navigating transitions or seeking to gain more confidence, fulfillment, and balance in their lives, including those in the surrogacy, LGBT, and open-relationship communities.
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