I couldn't imagine being in the position of needing another human being to grow my babies for me.
Having to hope against hope that someone, somewhere out there in the world would consider taking on such a huge task. Someone who would allow themselves to be impregnanted with a child that will never be theirs, carry that child through morning sickness, exhaustion, heartburn, stretch marks, constipation, bloating, swelling, and the constant paranoia that comes with not knowing if the baby is ok 24/7. Then have to give birth - however many hours of pain that takes - and hand the baby over to you immediately following birth.
And that's the uncomplicated version! What if there's a problem with the baby? What if there's preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes, or early labour, broken waters, bleeding, forced bed rest or any number of life threatening scenarios that can occur during delivery...? How do you reconcile the all consuming need for a child against the risks you're asking another person to take for you?
I don't have the answer.
I am not the one in this position. Though I have dipped my toe into the pool of 'desperately wanting a baby but being told it cant' happen'. So I do feel I understand this fundamental, biological, inescapable drive. To a degree. As much as someone who eventually had her two children 'just happen' can understand.
It was this glimmer of understanding that has been a fairly crucial motivator for me. I'll never claim to fully understand the torment an 'Intended Parent' must go through to make the decision to use a surrogate to complete their family, but I don't think I need to. That is their process, their soul searching and ultimately their choice.
MY responsibility was to make sure I was 100% certain of what I was offering to my IPs BEFORE contacting them. And while I think I certainly felt 100% certain at the time of first contact, there have been moments along the journey so far that I have questioned myself.
When we had our first round of counselling I was left with the question of what we'd do if the hospital I delivered at wouldn't let the IPs stay overnight to care for their baby. What if I was stuck all night with a newborn that wasn't mine (but legally was, so couldn't be discharged until I was), that I couldn't breastfeed, that I had to try and learn to settle... I had a little mini panic! The hospitals I'd delivered my own children in hadn't even let my hubby stay overnight to help. I found myself wondering why I was putting myself in this position as this scenario was literally my worst nightmare! The panic was short lived though, as we did some research and got some recommendations and a referral to an OB who had dealt with surrogacy situations before and DID allow IPs to stay overnight.
Then again when I was about 7weeks pregnant and VERY VERY sick with a combo of morning sickness and the flu... I was feeling quite sad and sorry for myself. I think I spent about 4 days in bed fighting through hot/cold fevers with a spew bucket by the bed. I alternated between thoughts of 'why am I doing this again?' to 'God I hope the baby is ok with all these fevers'! But the flu inevitably passed, and I started feeling a little more like me again, and refocused on the goal - a healthy baby for my IPs.
IPs that I didn't know before this journey started, but with whom I have a great deal of trust and respect. I honestly think this is the only way an altruistic surrogacy journey can take place - you have to have a connection there, but I think it's also really important to keep good boundaries. I have thought about it many times, and for me I don't know if I would have felt as comfortable to take on this journey with a family member or existing friend. The boundaries are a little more blurred and for me, it might have made things a little too messy if there were some less then ideal outcomes...
Because the IPs I chose live in the same state as me, but a fair distance away (nearly 1000km away), it meant that our first 'getting to know you' moments were nearly all done via email or the phone. It was like an intensive series of first dates, only we were throwing information at each other that might take other people years to discover! It also meant that there was a degree of natural 'boundary setting' in place simply due to the geographic distance.
My hubby and I met our IPs in person over lunch one day earlier this year, and got to meet their little boy. We were both so impressed by their parenting style and how down to earth and like us they were, that there were never any awkward moments. I think we all knew at that meeting that this was going to work. The IPs are very respectful of my space, and my role as mum to my own kids first and foremost.
I don't know how this relationship is going to look at the end of the pregnancy. This is a path I've never taken before. I don't know how it will look in 1 years time. Or 5yrs time. Or even 10 to 20 years time. These are all unknowns, and not something any of us can predict. We can have ideals in our mind (We're all hoping to keep in contact with annual visits and regular updates), but the reality will be what it is. And the not-knowing is all part of the experience.