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I Am a Surrogate Mother

Editorial Note: Thank you to Ryley for sharing her story of surrogacy with us.
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You may read herfirst post on surrogacy here.

I feel caught in a crossfire.

When I started the surrogate mother journey, I wasn’t in it to become part of the family. I never expected to be invited to family parties, or have the child call me “Mama Ryley.” I also abhorred the thought of carrying a child being a business transaction. Sure, I signed on the dotted line, and yes, there was money involved, but I never wanted to be treated like an employee. There’s a weird balance there.

I felt, so desperately, like I need to get back to my normal life quickly after the birth, just weeks ago. But what is my normal life? My marriage ended the very day I found out I was pregnant with my surrogate baby, yet it had nothing to do with the pregnancy. The end was just a series of horrible events and moments that happened to unfolded that morning. Moments after I bounded around the room happy the implantation worked, my world collapsed around me. I had just sent the parents a picture of positive pregnancy test, not knowing moments later I wouldn’t have a “normal” life to go back to after I gave them their baby.

When I suddenly found myself a single parent, the intended family took care of me and my son more than they were ever contractually obligated too. We had our world handed to us on a silver platter by them. It was a welcomed distraction at the time. But even without the silver platter, I’d still do it all over again for them.

I think it’s a pretty common surrogate feeling to want to know what the intended parents want from your relationship. But as I try so desperately to put my feet in their shoes, I wonder; “Would I even know what I want?” It’s a strange, crazy relationship. I don’t know that I’ve ever stopped to ponder what kind of relationship I want to have with someone who will carry and ultimately birth my child.

In the past couple weeks I feel like I’ve become better friends with my my Intended Mom. We talk more freely now: the short marriage of Kim Kardashian, about Guilanna Ransic, and how much sadness we feel with her. Celebrity gossip is one thing that transcends continents. She asks all the time about my ex-husband. I usually answer in a neutral way and say, “He’s fine.” However, I wonder if she’s really trying to be my friend. Does she really want to know? Is her asking a way to get me to open up? Or is she just being polite?

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Sometimes we sit alone, me and her, and I want to just explode with words. I want to tell her so many things, the kind you’d tell a best friend. This woman’s egg was inside of me. Her baby lived and grew in me. She ran her fingers through my hair as I birthed her child. She knows far more of me than so many other people.

I remember asking a seasoned surrogate about how much she cried after the births of her surrogate babies. She noted that sometimes it went on, and at unexpected times, for six weeks.

I can’t even fathom my surrogate family leaving. I’ve known since May of last year that the time would come for them to leave. They’re a new family. And they’re all I know. For 11 months my day, night, and thoughts have revolved around them. We have all lived and breathed each other. I’ve wondered if it will be weird for her. For 11 months she’s emailed me daily to check on me and to chat. Will it be weird for her to not wake up to a reply on her blackberry for me?

“They’ll be so busy with their new baby, you know,” People tell me, trying to help fend off some of the sting. The fact is, the relationship will change. It has to, right? I’m still preparing for it.

The relationship between me, the surrogate, and my intended mother has been like an onion: slowly pulling back layers on both of us. I want so badly to sit cross-legged at the end of her bed as she feeds the baby and pour my soul out to her. I don’t think I’m a business transaction to them, but sometimes it’s hard to read people. So I continue with the vanilla answers like “It’s fine.” “We’re fine.” “Everything’s great.”

It’s odd how much the surrogacy has become NOT about the baby. I love hearing how he’s doing. How he laughs in his sleep. How he’s gained 3 pounds in 1 month. I adore the pictures of him. I could never get enough. But my sadness, after the birth, comes now from the uncertainty of the relationship between the family and me.

I don’t miss him, the baby—their baby. I think I missed him once. It was that I was empty. Empty and alone, not knowing what came next.

Maybe that’s what it’s about. The emotions left from perfect strangers loving us so much for such a short time. I’m just not ready for it to end. I hope they aren’t either.


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