Bittersweet

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.

Me & My Sister-in-Law at 14 & 32 Weeks
With My Sister-in-Law at 14 & 32 Weeks

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.

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16 thoughts on “Bittersweet

  1. Sweet Pea is a gift beyond measure. It has taken courage to give this child and courage receive. Thank you Elle and Ashley for being courageous enough to bless all of us with this new little life to love. I love you.

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  2. That is a beautiful picture. I love that you are carrying Sweet Pea in your heart. Elle sounds like the perfect person to do this for you and so thoughtful and loving. Sweet Pea is surrounded by love and will continue to be… What a great start!

    I’m so sorry that you are feeling the loss of not being able to carry Sweet Pea. Nothing makes up for that, but over time I think you’ll find that the loss fades as SP is in your life and love very physically. I honestly don’t feel like my mother thinks very often about not having carried me in comparison to my non-adopted siblings… In her head she carried us all the same! (I really think she forgets at times!)

    Also, this reminded me of one of my favourite poems. It is one that’s often used for romantic love but I think it’s really apt for you and Sweet Pea.

    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
    my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
    i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
    by only me is your doing,my darling)
    i fear
    no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
    no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
    higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

    i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

    e.e.cummings

    Sending you hugs xx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for this. I love that poem and also thought of it with carrying Sweet Pea in my heart. I think I will print it out to see it often. 🙂 I also hope that as time goes on it will start to matter less. Logically I can say that it doesn’t really mean anything if SP is born from me or someone else, but I have been caught off guard at how much this time hurts because it feels like another loss and sacrifice like infertility. It’s another way that I cannot relate to others.

      I do like that your mom seems to forget that you some of her children had different beginnings. From everything I’ve heard of them, your parents seem so great! I think I would definitely like them. 🙂

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  3. Ashley I’m sorry you feel the loss of not carrying little Sweet Pea right now. Don’t ever feel bad for those natural feelings. I do feel that once you hold him or her those feelings will fade into the distance as you will be overwhelmed with new feelings of love, attachment, and joy. I also know you feel you’re body is broken but remember the amazing things you’re body has done to get to this point. You endured the the surgeries to preserve your fertility and the egg retrieval process which are harder on your body than most people due to having fibro. The most amazing thing of all is the fact that you carried and nourished part of Sweet Pea in your body for 27 years! I want to also commend you for having so much courage to go through the surrogacy process. It’s a huge thing and a lot harder than people realize to be able to have the strength to do that. You and Kyle are such an amazing couple. Sweet Pea is so blessed to have y’all as parents.

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  4. This is written and said so perfectly. This I feel gives the surrogates a look into what the mothers are feeling. Thank you for sharing. You are incredibly strong and courageous. You will be an amazing mother for what you have done for your child.

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    1. Thank you so much for saying that. I can’t tell you how much it means to me. I know that there are some who do not understand why someone would choose to pursue surrogacy (either as a carrier or an IP), but for those of us who get it, it can be such a beautiful thing. I often feel grateful that we live in a time when this is a possibility and also for women like you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It has truly been amazing. I have always found the stories of surrogacy to be incredible, I just didn’t believe that I would have one of those stories to tell. But, I am grateful that we live in a world where this miracle can be a reality. 🙂

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  5. This was such a beautiful post, as is the photo you shared. I can’t imagine what you’re going through as someone else carries your baby. I think in a lot of ways it was emotionally easier for me in carrying for two dads because my heart never hurt for an IM who couldn’t carry her own child. I think your surrogate sounds so kind with her words and feelings and I’m thankful for your family that you have such a great surro!

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