Tales of the Bumpless

Last week I decided it was finally time to attempt… a registry. We had been getting questions about it for several weeks now, and I knew that we were rapidly running out of time we could still put it off. With a due date in late January, I was already pushing my luck at appearing believably pregnant, and for once I just wanted to enjoy looking like a normal couple preparing for a baby; the details of our infertility and surrogacy were not something I was interested in discussing while signing up to register. After several days spent perusing checklists, reading reviews on Amazon, and texting Elle with endless questions, I eventually emerged from the piles of information feeling as though it was time to take the next step.

We were all ready to go… but, standing in front of the full-length mirror in one of my most flow-y tops, I turned to the side and wondered if I would be questioned on my lack of a bump. How long could I stand to arch my back in order to give the appearance of a tiny bump? Maybe drinking a bottle or two of water beforehand would help push my stomach out a little further and keep me from getting comments? Or I could just carry a really large purse… Kyle assured me that no one would even notice or care, but I was apprehensive as we started on our way.

Armed with a scanner and an enormous master list, it didn’t take long for me to feel completely overwhelmed again by the enormity of the task but, to my relief, we made it through Babies ‘R’ Us unscathed. If anyone did react to my flat stomach, I was too absorbed in making decisions to notice. The following day we decided to get Target out of the way as well, since that is a more convenient option for some of our family and stores offer freebies as an incentive to register. Again I wore a flow-y top and was only confronted by smiles and well wishes as we picked up our scanner. Still, as other shoppers walked down the aisle, I self-consciously turned away or held my checklists in front of my mid-section, hoping they either wouldn’t notice or would just think I was registering really early.

Our last registry was a private one, created solely to check out the store and claim a freebie bag. I got dressed that day without thinking of anything beside the weather, leaving the house in jeans and a three-quarter sleeve top. We were beginning to feel like pros by this point, and I was no longer as worried about getting comments. It was all purely for fun anyway, and we ended up picking out some things we didn’t really need but might want to buy later on with the eventual discount. We laughed and joked throughout the store, not feeling as much pressure this time as we pushed around a few of the obscenely expensive strollers. By the end, Kyle was forced to physically remove me from the clothing section; though, in my defense, everything there is just so cute and I have had to wait an extraordinarily long time to look at it!

After turning in our scanner and picking up a bag stuffed with free samples and coupons, we were walking to the exit when a few employees saw us and one loudly exclaimed, “Oh, it is true! Someone in ‘Registry’ told us to look for a girl here who doesn’t even look pregnant!”

For a moment I was completely stunned. My first reaction was to come clean; it’s what I would have done without question at the beginning of the summer. But since then I’ve experienced so many negative reactions that I have come to dread giving an explanation. Instead, I kept my mouth shut and walked through the door, guided by Kyle through my temporary daze. As soon as we got outside, I looked up at him and saw that he already knew how I was feeling. I didn’t have to tell him that it was painful and embarrassing for me, he has watched me stress over my missing bump for months now. And, as the weeks go by and I should be showing, it has become increasingly difficult to feel like a mother-to-be when I am outside of our little surro-group of four that includes Elle and her husband. I stared out the window as we drove home, feeling dejected and exposed– like a sort of freak– and did nothing to stop the tears from rolling freely down my cheeks.

I am not ashamed of the surrogacy… or at least I’m not always ashamed of it. However, the negative reactions I’ve received over the last few months have made me feel uncomfortable in many situations. At one time I thought I had developed a tougher skin thanks to years of thoughtless comments throughout our battle with infertility. I even used to welcome the questions about surrogacy– I believed I could help educate those who are lucky enough to have never needed it, but that was back when I thought that people would still give me some semblance of respect. Since then I have developed anxiety in social situations, never knowing when I will be hit with an insensitive comment or whether someone will insinuate that my child’s life is “against God’s will.” We are regularly made to feel as though our journey to parenthood is inferior to that of everyone else, usually without any warning to protect ourselves. Worst of all, I don’t know when I will be treated with utter condescension, as though I am less valuable as a woman due to my inability to carry my own child. As someone who is a natural-born rule-follower, I have never experienced so much disapproval over something I’ve done– and all of it because my body isn’t healthy enough to carry a child, the thing I have wanted most my entire life.

There is just something so heartbreaking about the fact that we fear the pregnancy coming up in conversation after so much time spent waiting to get to this point. Personally, I have always been in awe of surrogacy. Long before we ever needed the help of a gestational carrier, I felt there was no greater gift that you could give another person. It is a miracle, a second chance. It results in a life, a child who would otherwise not exist. Yet, the way I have been treated by many has caused me to understand that not everyone feels the same way.

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35 thoughts on “Tales of the Bumpless

  1. I’m so sorry that you had this awful experience. It’s really terrible. People are so judgey and rude. I think that it is amazing that you are able to have a child after all your struggles. Shame on the people who are rude to you and make you feel bad about your path to motherhood, it’s like an extra kick in the teeth and how dare they!

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    1. Thank you! I know I am probably extra sensitive right now and it has just been a difficult month overall, but it is still a shock to me how judgmental people can be when it comes to non-traditional ways of having a family. I just wish people were more compassionate and understanding.

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  2. The actual physical bump is not what is going to make you a great mama. How much they were prayed, wished, monkey danced, whatever for is so much more than actual arrival method. Maybe easier for me to say never having gone the surrogacy route, but hang in there! You’ll be no less of a mommy than those who conceived naturally, or via IUI, IVF or adoption.

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    1. Thank you for saying so. I am glad to hear that others feel the same way I do, I just never knew there were still so many people who can’t accept families who are non-traditional. It has made me much more aware of how much of a bias there still is regarding what is considered the “right” or “best” way to do things. Sometimes it’s just insensitivity, but sometimes it is much worse. I can only hope that things will continue to change!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with your dad – it’s not the bump that makes a woman a mom. Two of the kids I helped raise did not come from my body, but they sure were and are in my heart. A practical suggestion that may help future shoppers at that store with the private registry: I would drop a little note to the manager informing her of the thoughtless comment you overheard as you exited. This may prevent other women who are awaiting children via adoption or surrogacy from having the same painful experience you did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Maggie. After thinking on it, I do think I will speak to someone about my experience in hopes of preventing the same from happening to someone else in the future. It’s a simple thing I feel like I can do to try to help the situation, even though speaking up is not something that comes naturally to me. I appreciate your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can see why this hit a nerve, and it’s totally reasonable. This has been a long battle for you, and you’d love nothing more than to be doing it the way you’ve always pictured. I think you’re strong and so brave. I also think that salesclerk was an idiot. There are many ways to become parents besides the “traditional” way: adoption, foster care, gestational carrier, IVF, IUI…it’s annoying when people don’t consider the other options out there. And they seldom do, unless they’ve been down that road.

    I think it’s awesome you didn’t feel the need to explain your situation to that girl. It’s really none of her business, and if she’s that flippant with her comments, she likely would’ve continued to be awkward and made you more uncomfortable.

    You’re going to be a fabulous mom. You know how I know? You’re so caring and kind. You’ve been such a huge support to me throughout this journey and we’ve never officially “met.” You are loving because that’s who you ARE! And you’re going to be such a sweet, kind, caring mother. Your son is beyond lucky to have a mommy like you. 💙

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    1. Thank you so much, Heather. ❤ I really appreciate everything you said! I do think that as hard as the road has been for so many of us, the destination will be even sweeter. I know my experience has opened my eyes to other "non-traditional" ways to build a family, and I have been absolutely shocked by how often those people are overlooked and treated as inferior by general society. It sucks! I wish that there was more that I could do to change it.

      When we filled out the registry forms at Babies "R" Us there was a question: "Are you adopting? Y/N"… and all I could think was, what is the point of the store knowing this? Maybe there is a good reason, but it just felt like a way to single adopting parents out, even though they are adding to their family just like everyone else. Surely anyone who would buy them a gift would already know, so it can't be for that. (I only thought of this because maybe they'd be registering for items for a 3 year old rather than a newborn). Other than that, I can't think of why that information would need to be on there. I was so nervous about being called out for not looking pregnant that I actually almost checked "yes" just to avoid it… but since we have had ENOUGH confusion as how Sweet Pea can be mine when Elle is carrying him, I decided against it to try to keep it simple for anyone who looks at the registry!!

      I'm thinking of you so often and I always look forward to hearing your updates! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This entire post, right here, is what I fear most moving on to a gestational carrier. It doesn’t make any sense to me either. After everything we have been through, you would think people would be a little sympathetic? It that too much to ask from other human beings? Does anyone put themselves in others shoes anymore? There’s nothing I can type that will help but just know that there are a lot more people here cheering you on and praising you for being so brave and unwavering in bringing your child into this world. You are so right when you say , “It is a miracle. The greatest gift…a second chance” Your miracle is on the way..don’t let anyone ruin your excitement. You will have your baby in your arms soon..and I am beyond thrilled for you!!!! So much love and support your way Ash!! Xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much. I know exactly how you feel and how scary it is, and I hate that you are wrestling with this now. I wish so badly that there was something that I could do for you. If somehow I wasn’t in this position and getting pregnant was something my body was capable of, I would offer to carry for you in a heartbeat. You would be at the top of my list!

      As you well know by now, going through surrogacy brings on a whole set of other issues that infertility/IVF on its own does not. There are hard days… there are a lot of days that I think I can’t keep going, but the difference now is that I have something concrete to focus on in the future. It is a sacrifice for sure, but I am hoping that someday soon the pain will melt away.

      I know I said I would email you, and it has been super crazy, but I will do it soon because I believe we have some things to catch up on. I am always cheering for you and hoping for you, and if/when you do make the decision, I will be there anytime you need me!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. *Hugs* Whatever store you were at should give its employees a lesson in sensitivity training. We are not living in the 1950s and that employee had no right to comment about your lack of bump in front of you (that is really, really judgemental). How have they never seen someone without a bump registering? Even though surrogacy is not probably something they see often, people adopt children all the time. I would be writing scathing reviews on Yelp over this. It is their job to make you feel comfortable and excited, not uneasy and self conscious.

    Side note – yay for being done with registering 🙂

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    1. Thank you! And yay for putting the registry behind me! 🙂 Originally, I hadn’t even thought to speak to someone about this experience, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like it is something I need to do– if not for myself, then at least for someone else. I completely agree that there needs to be more sensitivity. The worst part of it was knowing that the girl in registry had told other employees to look for me specifically, even giving them a description of my purse to help them pick me out, which I left out of the original quote. There was just no reason for it, and had it happened to anyone else, I would have also been furious rather than just hurt. I guess it’s time to step up to the plate! Thank you for your comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hate that you couldn’t enjoy your registry process, I can’t imagine how anxious you must have felt just stepping into the store. But you didn’t cave in and you did it! I am very impressed just by you doing this! Although your terribly unfortunate experience at the last store shows just how ignorant people can be…to go so far to describe your purse out to others is beyond my comprehension (even just the basic retail staff manners). I am so mad for you and upset it ruined your experience 😦
        If you do write a letter to this shop, good luck, I understand it must be difficult to write but the management will be so appreciative to receive feedback, I’m sure of it. And if they aren’t, it would be a shame on them.
        Stay strong hon! You are going to be a wonderful mum soon!!!! X

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, people are so rude! I would complain to the manager and explain that perhaps his employees need some training. Not every mother has a bump. Some will be adopting or using a surrogate. Some may actually be carrying their baby but don’t show it much. Using a surrogate is nothing to be ashamed of, I cannot believe you het negative reactions, it makes me so mad that people just can’t be more supportive. You are already a mum, bump or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much. Initially I hadn’t thought to say something to someone about it, but you’re right that there are several reasons why someone may not have a bump. For some it may not be a painful thing, but that is not the case for everyone. I do think it might be worth telling the store so that others don’t have the same experience. Thanks again. xx

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I am so sorry this happened and for the way it blindsided you. We love you with all of our hearts and are counting down the weeks with you until we look into Sweet Pea’s eyes and your joy is complete.

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  9. I am sorry you have to feel this way about something u have no control over. Although I am sorry, I also want to thank you for sharing your feelings during pregnancy with a gestational carrier. I just recently started following your blog, as a gestational carrier is something we may be faced with now after 3 IVF miscarriages.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I am so, so sorry to hear about your losses and the fact that surrogacy is something you even have to consider. You have been thorough a lot already, and I know that this is a hard place to get to and a painful decision to have to make. It’s definitely not an easy road and there is a lot of sacrifice involved, but even now as I am still pushing through tough days and experiences, I am glad I did it and I would easily choose it again. There are also a lot of blessings that come with surrogacy that most people never experience. Knowing that someone is giving you such an incredible gift is hugely overwhelming and very special. The relationship I have with our gestational carrier is like no other that I have, and my child will also have a special relationship with her and her husband that other children don’t have in their lives. They are now family to us, and I am so grateful for them.

      It’s a lot to think about and process, but if at anytime you have questions or want to talk about it, please feel free to email me (ashleykyle.anderson@gmail.com). No matter what you end up doing, I hope that you are soon blessed with your rainbow baby. And I will also be following along with you too. 🙂

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      1. Thank you very much for the well wishes and for sharing with me! I am so glad to hear u are at peace with your decision. I can totally foreseee how using a gestational carrier could be such a blessing in disguise. I imagine the bond is so strong between your family and hers. Like you said, it is a lot to process, and we are just starting to sift through it all. Im so grateful to have met you and be able to learn from your experiences. Thanks again!

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  10. All this time you’ve been leaving such sweet, encouraging comments on my blog and I JUST now realized that I wasn’t following yours; I honestly thought I was though! Sorry!

    Anyway, I’m so sorry that people have said horrible things to you about your individual journey to parenthood. How cruel and heartless. Personally, although I haven’t yet had a chance to read your whole story yet, I think the path you’re taking with surrogacy is inspiring and so so SO very brave! I can’t even imagine how difficult a process it has been or how many hurdles you’ve had to jump through just to bring your little one home. Peace to you my friend 🙂

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    1. No problem! And thank you. 🙂 It has been a very difficult process, but it isn’t without its rewarding moments and I am trying to remember that this transition time is temporary. The reactions and comments have definitely made it all much harder because I was not expecting them at all.

      I am sure you’ve been on pins & needles as you wait for your appointment tomorrow (Friday). I hope the report is good!!!

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  11. Picturing this as one of the happiest times in your lives it is so difficult to hear of the glitches people make along the way. My eyes are still on the picture of two happy parents with that dear little one with wonderfully happy fulfilling lives. Can’t wait. Love you! Gram

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  12. I never thought about the continual struggle that comes after the conception process. I can imagine that some conversations will always be awkward. I’m sorry you have to endure this pain and cruelty. I can’t believe how some people can be so insensitive and judgmental. Just know that there are lots of people and prayers behind you. It will be worth it in the end!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Angela. I think I probably would have thought the same thing if I hadn’t been through it myself. But, there are very real struggles after conception/getting pregnant who have fought through infertility, loss, fertility treatments and/or surrogacy. There is an overwhelming fear of loss that can become paralyzing and prevent us from being able to enjoy the pregnancy, and there can also still be residual feelings of grief, resentment, or even jealousy that we have had to go through such an ordeal for something that comes so naturally for most everyone else. Also, there can be the pain of knowing that if you want to have other children to complete your family, as many do, you will have to go through it all over again– and often the added expense or the physical cost makes that either very difficult or impossible. You can have a child after infertility and still feel the void of another child missing in your life. I’ve experienced a lot of it personally and have seen it in a lot of my friends who are going through similar experiences. It would be nice if the pain would simply disappear when the battle is won, but that is unfortunately not the case. I really appreciate your willingness to listen and try to understand though, as well as your prayers and support! It all means a lot.

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  13. Oh my friend I am so angry that experience was tainted by one ignorant a*sehole. And I totally understand that mixture of excitement and dread that fills the pit of your tummy when you go into a baby store. I go in with a fake due date so that I *could* in theory be about 15 weeks….cos I think with my tubby tummy I could pass for about that! In all seriousness though I feel your pain and I am here, holding your hand through this from afar.
    We have to be tougher than most other mothers and that sucks because there are so many times we just want to feel….normal. But we’re so much more than that, and those who don’t get that don’t matter. Even if they still hurt us.xxxxx

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