The worst part of this process has always been how those around me handle surrogacy (as you may have discovered if you've been reading my rants for a while now. I will apologize in advance, as I will no doubt be going over some of the same old bugbears here). As soon as I had nutted out what the process would look like as a surrogate in Australia, I had my head around it. I knew I could do it.
I knew my marriage and my kids would be fine - in fact, I actually think things are better. My hubby has been just wonderful. He's seen me through two pregnancies that were 'his fault', so understands the toll it takes on my body and is able to be supportive in practical ways (like getting up at the crack of dawn to see to our almost-3yr old so I can sleep an extra 30mins), but is also so much more relaxed this time knowing that he doesn't have to prepare for an extra family member.
My 4.5yr old has become baby obsessed, and asks a million questions about what they do, what they eat, how big they are, what do they sound like etc, - so we google videos of newborns crying, or breast feeding, or taking a bottle, or being dressed, and you can see her brain taking it all in. She understands that this is not our baby, that we're helping another family to do something they couldn't do on their own. She also tells me that she doesn't want to have babies in her belly when she's older, to which I explain that it's totally her choice. She says instead that she will marry her best friend from Preschool, and her friend will have their babies!
I'm actually really proud of how open minded and flexible she is with the whole concept. That babies don't just come from a mum and dad - that some people have to find other ways to have babies. She's also learnt that not all families choose to have kids. That some kids live with their grand parents or aunties or uncles instead of their mums and dads. That there are many different versions of 'family, and the importance of the role of 'mum', no matter who is playing it'. I don't know if we would have had all of these discussions at this stage in her life had I not chosen to head down the surrogacy path.
What I am struggling with right now is how invisible I seem to have become in my social network. It's hard to describe really - because I'm obviously still acknowleged, but the pregnancy (you know, that massive beachball tucked down my dress) isn't. It feels like the more obvious it becomes, the more people avoid mentioning it. Like if they can just get through the next few months it'll all be over and they can really pretend it never happened. I think I would have fallen over backwards if someone had said 'hey Em, how's the pregnancy going?' or 'Are you getting much movement from the baby?' or 'The baby's parents must be getting excited now' etc. But no. The most I got was 'good luck with things', and 'It's a bit hot today hey'.
Those who did make mention of things had their own agendas, ie to talk about how the adoption laws had changed which was so good, because it meant people wouldn't need to bother about bringing new babies into the world via surrogacy any more - they could just adopt all of the world's orphaned children.
There was SO many things that annoyed me about that flippant statement ( I did feel myself fire up a bit, but pulled it back for the sake of our relationship and Christmas gathering!). I'm obviously happy that it sounds like the Australia adoption laws are changing for the better - it's seriously about time - but until it's looked into it in greater depth, there's no way to know exactly what that will mean for people wanting a child. There is no doubt still going to be a truck load of red-tape and logistical hoops to jump through, and it will still be reliant on the laws surrounding the birth country of the oprhaned children - Australia has no control over that. Potential parents will be excluded for all manner of reasons - age, financial capacity, religion, marital status, health, situation etc, just as they are now.
Yet if you find yourself in the lucky percentage of people who can fall into bed with your partner, then do a positive pregnancy test a few weeks later - what gives you any more right to be a parent? Where are the reproductive nazi's with their 'you should just adopt' attitudes then? No one would dare say that to you. It's your RIGHT to be able to have your own child.
Adoption is not going to be 'the' option for every couple struggling with infertility. Just as surrogacy won't be for everyone. But while I totally understand that, I didn't enjoy the inference that surrogacy is something seedy and morally wrong. That if people have 'better' options, they should do that instead. I think what the vast majority of people don't realise (especially those who've never faced infertility), is that surrogacy is NOT the first point of call for a couple needing reproductive help. It's a place you come to way down the line of options, after you've explored everything else. And as such, it's usually the last resort.
I feel so proud of my body for being able to assist another family. It's doing exactly what it needs to to protect and nurture this little baby boy. It's something I'm so happy about, that I'm excited about and WANT to talk about. It's a huge part of my life right now. Yet I feel like I'm being silenced and sensored. Like others are unable to experience the joy with me, for their own reasons. And that's the biggest, most persistant confusion for me - why can't they feel the joy too? Is it fear? Fear that they'll get attached to the idea of a baby that they won't have any claim to? Or just because they don't understand their own emotions?
I never expected this to be such a big deal for those in my life. I honestly thought it was beautifully clear cut - the baby is not genetically related to me, never was mine, never will be, and is so very longed for and loved already by his parents and their extended family. What is there to be confused about people!!?