Long, long ago, in a land far, far away....
Okay, it wasn't that long ago, maybe 3 or 4 years, a year or two before we started trying to get pregnant. And it wasn't far, far, away, it actually occurred about a 20 minute drive from here, while we were in the car on the highway in between our house and Brian's parents place....but I remember it distinctly.
The conversation went something like this:
Brian: If we won the lottery, would you want to skip getting pregnant and have a baby via surrogacy?
Me: Ummm....probably not. I want to try myself.
Now, I can probably guess what you are thinking: What? Why? What a weird question!?
Actually it's not that weird. My heart defect places me at higher risk for complications during a pregnancy. As my OB nicely explained to me when I was already 16 weeks pregnant, he felt reasonably sure that while my heart function may decrease during my pregnancy, most women with heart defects rebound after delivery. The issue becomes, does this 'rebound' last? Or do women with heart defects, who get pregnant, experience a 'faster' wearing out of their hearts?
Think of having a 5 year old and coping with heart failure.
My doctors do not know the answer to that question. I was going to be in a study to help them find out. I'm not sure that my pregnancy with Aidan fits their inclusion criteria anymore.
Anyway, I was thinking over the past few days that my answer to that question my husband nonchalantly asked would now be:
Yes, definitely, I would start the process tomorrow.
In my mind, when my husband first asked this question, pregnancy was this little dot...way in the future. Something fuzzy and sweet and wonderful to look forward to. Of course I would want to try to have my own child...I knew that my heart might be affected...but I wanted to at least TRY. Never know until you try right? I wanted that big belly and baby kicks and to be able to breastfeed. I wanted the experience of watching my body change and grow and to give birth. I wanted to watch my body do something right, something normal.
Now. I want to live. I want my baby to live. Nothing else matters.
I know people have issues with surrogacy. Hell, I have issues with surrogacy. My university minor in Women's Studies would have me question it. Do we have a right to buy and sell a child? Is surrogacy tantamount to 'renting a womb'? Is it right to place another women's health in jeopardy to achieve your own goal? How does it impact the mother and child bond? Is this just another way that white-bread yuppies are taking over the world?
I have no answers to any of these questions. Well I do, but they would be long and complicated and would require footnotes and source material. But, I do not have any personal experience from which to draw.
Often people who oppose surrogacy will say "why don't you just adopt?"
These people have obviously never adopted before.
This 'just adopt' attitude completely overshadows the HUGE undertaking it is to adopt. It assumes that adoption is just an answer to a problem, ie: you want a baby, that baby needs a family, voilà, perfect situation! It negates the very real and very painful emotional scars that can result from adoption. My aunt was adopted, and although I will never know for sure, I can tell you, the emotional scars it left behind likely impacted her decision to commit suicide 45 years later.
Adopting also brings up some of the exact same questions that surrogacy does. For example, adopting costs money. Now you are not exactly 'paying' for a child...but there are many costs involved as I understand it. Lawyers, social workers, home studies, adoption agencies etc. It's like thousands-of-dollars-not-free.
We in our nice little world, also assume that we are somehow 'doing the biological mother a favour' by taking her child. Adoption is seen as a way for the biological mother to be able to go on to do 'bigger and better things' until it is her 'time' to have a child. You know, go to school, get a good job, get married, buy a house...the 'right' things to have before a baby enters the picture. This might be true in some situations. She might very lovingly and willingly give up her child. But, what if the only reason she's giving the child up is because she's living in poverty and is having problems feeding the three children she has already? What if she really would have kept it, but she lives in a country where unwed mothers are social pariahs? What if the only reason she's put her baby up for adoption, is to save the baby from the domestic abuse she suffers daily?
I don't have the answers to those questions either.
I'm not at all disparaging people who adopt...or children who are adopted. It might be an option for us some day. I'm just saying that there are often a lot more factors involved in 'just adopting' than bringing home the baby.
I'm not writing this post to say, 'hey I'm looking for a surrogate'. I'm not. I really do still have that dream of being able to carry my own baby. And I was given 23 weeks and 3 days of hope during Aidan's pregnancy that I might be able to pull it off without anything disastrous happening to me (to him is a different story). Plus it's more fun creating your own baby from scratch...and it's way cheaper.
Unfortunately, it sucks to be me and worry not only about 'hey my last pregnancy ended with a dead baby, let's hope the next one doesn't end with a dead mother'. In fact, why don't we just try to avoid the word dead or sick in all future pregnancies shall we?
I guess what I'm saying is I want a baby. And, I don't really care anymore how it happens, as long as all parties are alive and healthy at the end.
What are your thoughts on surrogacy? Adopting? Ever considered it? Ever had to consider it?