Our situation is not normal.
There is never a day that goes by when I am able to forget that. We are finally expecting a child, but I am still not pregnant. Our lives will change forever in a few months, but my body has not changed at all. I am just as infertile as ever.
I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that watching my child grow inside another woman’s body would somehow be both wonderful and painful at the same time. When each embryo was transferred to Elle, I had to accept that I would never have the opportunity to carry it. Not for nine months, not for one day, not even for a moment. As we sat in our protective gear and waited to be called back for the procedure, I was surprised to still feel the loss of it so deeply. We had been working up to this for almost a year, but facing the reality of it was like being punched in the stomach. Once inside the room, I watched her take my place in the stirrups while I fought back the heartache and pangs of jealousy.
Over the last several weeks I have often been frustrated by how much I am still hurting over not being the one carrying Sweet Pea. I want to be able to enjoy this pregnancy the way I’ve imagined it for so long, but I feel the horrible weight of being physically separated from my baby every day. Someone else is taking care of my child because I can’t. Someone else is feeling my child move but I can’t. Someone else is currently bonding with my child while I can’t. In the same day I can easily find myself in tears from unbelievable joy at the thought of finally becoming parents as well as the immense pain of being stuck on the sidelines. There is no way we could have prepared for something like this because we have never been through something like this, so we are left to make it up as we go.
Some day we will finally be connected to the missing puzzle piece we now know as Sweet Pea, but in the meantime, it is agonizing to continue waiting after being separated for so long already.
Still, I sometimes feel as though I have no right to hurt at all. We will never be able to repay Elle and her family for the incredible gift they are giving us. They have sacrificed a lot for Sweet Pea and are caring for our baby in a way that I am not able to right now. On top of everything Elle is doing for us, I haven’t wanted her to also worry about the feelings of pain and loss that follow me each day. She is (literally) already carrying so much; the last thing I want to do is add to her load.
Yet, she continues to surprise me with her thoughtfulness, generosity, and compassion. Not long ago I texted Elle a photo of me standing with my sister-in-law, Audrye. Both of us are currently expecting (32 and 14 weeks respectively at the time), and we each had a hand over where our babies are growing: hers in her belly and mine in my heart. Elle and I often share photos or stories from our lives “outside the pregnancy” and I thought it would be nice for her to see it, as she is the reason we could even take that photo at all.
Here is what Elle said in response:
“That picture and what you said really touched my heart. I feel the loss for you a lot in not getting the opportunity to carry your own child. Sometimes it feels like I’m taking instead of giving… I know we are working toward the same goal and get the same outcome no matter who’s carrying, I just feel sad for you sometimes. I know it’s all bittersweet. I’m so thankful for this opportunity and so very grateful for y’all. I hope you know you can talk about the feelings you may have whether negative or positive. I just want you to know I won’t think you’re ungrateful if you share things with me.”
When we first met Elle and her family, I had no idea how much they would come to support us through this time. The months of difficult injections, invasive tests, and stressful procedures (not to mention the time and sacrifice of actually going through pregnancy afterward) were all things they signed up for, and that is already overwhelming and humbling. But, they have also consistently gone above and beyond to care about us and be there for us during what has been the very darkest time in our lives. The more we have gotten to know each other, the more I realize just how amazing Elle and her husband truly are, and I feel lucky to be going through this experience with them. Few people will ever know or experience what it feels like to be given as extraordinary a gift as they are giving to us.