This story is brought to you by Brooke, owner of 4 Sisters Surrogacy Agency. Her personal story as a surrogate drove her to open 4 Sisters Surrogacy in order to better the surrogacy community!W.O.W. What an incredible journey. I guess in some ways, it feels like it happened to someone else and in some ways it has penetrated parts of my soul I didn’t know I had.
Being a surrogate was a truly life altering decision that my husband and I made just 15 short months ago but we could never have known how much it would truly change our lives when we started.
In becoming a surrogate, after first convincing my ever loving husband that it was relatively normal to be impregnated by another man and to carry his child, hubby and I had numerous conversations about what impact this would have on our family. We discussed telling our kids and what type of approach to use. We contemplated all aspects (that we knew at the time) and had come to somewhat of a decision in late October 2014.
The fall chill had settled into Northern California and we were sitting in our hot tub with our middle little who had snuck out for some much needed parent/daughter alone time. I decided to test out our proposition with our then 4 year old; “What if someone who couldn’t have a baby wanted to borrow mommy’s tummy so that they could grow their baby in there?” Our daughter took pause and answered so matter of factly “Mommy, that would be really helpful.” It seemed so easy, so simple, so right, when explained through the eyes of a 4 year old and so it was decided that our family would partake in this exciting surrogacy journey.
We picked a gay, single male who was dying for a child… he was deemed a “difficult match” due to his relationship status (single) and I immediately connected with him.We built an organic and trusting friendship over the course of the pregnancy and he always remained thoughtful and genuine with not just me, but my entire family. His dry humor and sarcasm matched perfectly with mine and late night texts often left me smiling as I fell into bed, exhausted by the pregnancy as well as raising my own 4 children.
As delivery day approached (a scheduled c-section), the details of the day were worked out. Daddy would be in the delivery room with me until baby was delivered, then he would tag in my husband who would stay with me until the surgery was complete while daddy went off to snuggle his new bundle of joy. I was looking forward to having two of them there. With my previous c-sections, my husband would always go with baby and I would be left to finish out the surgery alone.
Monday, October 26th arrived and we went into the hospital for the pre-game prep. Husband, Daddy and I were all present, along with Daddy’s entourage who were eagerly awaiting baby in the waiting room. Blood drawn and matched in case of the very rare need for more blood, IV in place, allergy bracelet in place and checked and double checked (I can have no narcotics at all… no pain meds which means it was Tylenol and Motrin only for this girl but I had been through it before and knew exactly what to expect.)
The boys gowned up and we all walked into the surgery area. Hubby waited in the chair outside after a reassuring kiss and a “you got this” look as Daddy and I entered the room. The IPOD was hooked up and a flood of cheesy “you’re having my baby” songs played from a playlist created by Daddy’s friend. As I scanned the room and looked at all of the people who would be a part of this very exciting day, I noticed that the entire team was women. We briefly discussed how awesome this was and then it was down to business.
Shot into the spine, drape up, numbing meds and some medical and conversational chatter as everyone waited for the patient to be ready to proceed. Here it was, the moment of truth and I felt elated… looking up at Daddy (who looked absolutely terrified) and knowing all of those feelings all too well, I knew he was going to be an amazing father. He was holding my hand and away we went.
“You’re going to feel a lot of pressure”. “Almost there.” “”How are you feeling?” All the normal chatter as we proceeded quickly through the first layers of cutting and pulling. “Congratulations. You have a beautiful DAUGHTER.”
Daddy had chosen not to find out the gender and as everything hit him all at once… he was a father, he had a daughter, she was being weighed and was absolutely perfect, he had a moment of panic… he looked down at me… open, intestines laying on the table next to us and his daughter out of reach… he had to choose and he felt stuck… “go!! GO!! Be with your daughter” I said and with that, he kissed my forehead through his mask and left to be with his beautiful, perfect daughter.
Within seconds, this amazing handsome and masked man was by my side (hubby), giving me that same “you’ve got this look” that I have seen oh so many times before. We laid there, holding hands as I watched Daddy take away his precious daughter and thought about how incredible it was that I was able to be a part of this moment. Husband sat quietly and stoically, waiting for the surgery to finish and his wife to be out of pain.
And then it happened. Voices became hushed. Activity picked up. Something was wrong. I waited. Maybe it was a little hiccup, a tiny bump in an otherwise perfectly flat road. But the calm never came. I quietly asked what was wrong as I looked at my husband’s terrified face and a single hot tear rolled down my face. “There is a lot more bleeding than I’d like to see. Your placenta did not detach correctly.” The anesthesiologist tried to be reassuring but at this point, we knew something wasn’t right. As I saw my husband’s face drain of color and terror set in, I tried to squeeze his hand with reassurance… “We got this….”
As the rest of the day remains a little fuzzy, I do know that the next four hours would be the most painful of my lifetime. I was put into a recovery bay but had trouble keeping my heart rate above 45. I was passing in and out of consciousness and was unable to speak. I had a blood pressure cuff on my arm that would take my pressure every four minutes. Each time, the alarm would sound and the nurse would ask me to please breathe deeply and try and raise my heart rate. At the same time, she would apologize for the amount of pain she was about to inflict and would then take her body weight and press down on my newly sewn abdomen with all her weight to try and expel blood out of my hemorrhaging uterus. For the next four hours, this would be my life as my husband looked on, held my hand and kept my family informed. We were both scared. We were both terrified. We were both waiting to see what else was to happen… where do we go from here?
6 bags of Pitocin to keep my uterus contracting and hours of agony and we managed to make it to the point where we could be moved into an actual room.
The blood had slowed and we had cleared the first hurdle. Slowly, my already low blood pressure and heart beat returned to a more manageable pace and I was allowed to have both ice chips and water… OH GLORIOUS DAY!
The next twenty four hours was a lot of the same… a lot of pushing and pain, a lot of blood and a visit from my doctor that would change me forever. I would undergo a blood transfusion with two bags of blood that they had never expected to need and some apple juice that I swear to this day was made by the Gods themselves. Slowly, I was getting better. I was moving forward. I got to see baby and daddy who were both thriving (although Daddy was looking oh so tired :)) and my ever supportive husband and mother spent time switching between the hospital and home, managing our crazy life.
Before I was released from the hospital, my doctor came around for a checkup. She explained that while the progress I was making was enough to allow me to go home, I would never be able to carry another child. Four pregnancies with four c-sections and my uterus had closed up shop and called it quits.
To be honest, husband and I had discussed many times that our family was complete and that we weren’t interested in having any more children. I felt ecstatic that I had been able to be a surrogate and while I considered the possibility of doing it again for the same Daddy, I would not have been willing to do it again for a different family. And after all of that discussion, after all of the determinations and acceptance of probably never being pregnant again, this news hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt sadness that I didn’t expect. I felt loss. I felt finality.
Ten days out, I had a better perspective and gave myself the ok to grieve. At first, I was unsure about why or what I was grieving. I felt lost as to why I felt loss. Now, I know that I was grieving the loss of my fertility. I have spent the past 6 years being pregnant or recovering from pregnancy. I have spent all of my marriage and all of my 30s in some form of pregnancy. It was a huge part of my life and I did it well.
I have four beautiful kids because of my ability to get pregnant, to stay pregnant and to have healthy happy babies. In addition, I was able to do the same for someone else’s family. In the end, I couldn’t be happier with the decision that we made to become a surrogate. I feel honored, blessed and truly changed as a person because of this experience. I know each night, as I tuck my four little monsters into bed and kiss their foreheads, there is a very tired Daddy out there who is doing the very same thing to his daughter because I was able to participate in this with him.
As I close this chapter of our life and move on to being the owner of a surrogacy agency who continuously helps build families, I will forever keep the card that arrived shortly after with a beautiful bunch of roses and sunflowers:
O and I are eternally grateful for the gift you have given us. We cannot thank you enough for your selfless act.
And with that, it all seems to make perfect sense.