Labor

It was two years ago that we agreed to be matched with Elle*, our gestational carrier, after meeting via a Skype session less than 48 hours before. As I think back to that moment and the overwhelming feelings of hope and fear that were fighting within me, the miracle that came from that decision is napping peacefully beside me.

When we first started to share the news that we were pursuing surrogacy — our only hope of becoming parents — one of the most hurtful reactions I received was, “You’re so lucky!” …because having a baby without the pain of labor somehow came with the perception of taking the easy way out, no matter the circumstances.

It’s not exactly what you want to hear when you are facing the most excruciatingly painful and downright terrifying journey of your life. We were already devastated, already heartbroken, already physically, emotionally and financially exhausted. As someone who had spent 15 years in fear of being rendered incapable of ever carrying children, I was also suffering a crushing personal defeat. And although surrogacy can be amazing and wonderful, it is also full of loss and sacrifice. Not only that, but we weren’t even attempting surrogacy with a trusted friend or family member as we’d hoped. Instead, we were beginning the search for a compassionate stranger to whom we would hand over control of the most precious thing we could ever imagine– something I’d once vowed I would never do.

For as gut-wrenching as the process was, our journey went (almost) as smoothly as was possible, and looking back over these years and the events that have since occurred, it’s somewhat tempting to see the way things unfolded as being predestined. But it did not feel that way as I answered the call from our agency and committed to working with someone we only knew through a few photos, notes from extensive interviews, and a 15-minute Skype call. We had no way of knowing where that decision would lead us or what, if anything, would come out of it. In hindsight it’s hard to believe I was ever so brave (or maybe so reckless) as to take that step in the first place, the one that would ultimately change our lives.

No, I did not give birth to my son, but that doesn’t mean that I did not labor in bringing him into the world. It may have been different from the traditional labor that most mothers experience, but it took every ounce of strength and energy I possessed. At times it tore me apart and the unbearable pain felt like it would never end. At times I felt completely overwhelmed by the task before me. (It also lasted a hell of a lot longer than normal labor.) But, just as I’d heard, when I held him in my arms that first time, everything else faded away and I was forever changed.

When I relay to Elle yet another insensitive comment I receive or someone’s implication that I had it easier than other women, she often reminds me that I did something most could never even imagine doing. Ross was not born from my body, but I most certainly labored to get him here.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons

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6 thoughts on “Labor

  1. That is so true. Motherhood is more than labour! Some women carry for 9 months or less and labour. Some carry for 9 months or less and have a c-section. Some go through years of pain, paperwork and expense to have a child through surrogacy or adoption. Some go through the emotional turmoil of fostering. Others will take up the mantle because they love their spouse and he happens to have children.

    We need to start focusing on actual motherhood instead of arbitrary distinctions based on who carried them and method of delivery.

    Who is up at night? Who worries for them when they are sick? Who disciplines them? Who’s heart breaks when theirs does? Who guides and teaches them? Because a mother does all that and more. Whether or not the child grew in her womb, how they are born or whether or not there are biological ties.

    My mother loves all 11 of her children. It doesn’t matter that 5 were not carried in her body (stepkids), it doesn’t matter that she never ‘laboured’ and had us via c-section. I have also seen her mother children of friends, other relatives and our chosen partners.

    She did the hard work in bringing us up, she loves us and I see the worry and pain on her face when we are hurting. I see the pain when she talks about my brother, whom we lost.

    Sorry if it seems rambling but we need to stop the emphasis on defining motherhood by simple biology or putting women who ‘naturally’ carry and labour on some kind of pedestal as the ‘best’. However we become mothers, we are all as equal, valid and important as each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am also so sorry you get really insensitive comments. I am hyper emotional at the moment. 39 weeks pregnant and looking at a likely c-section and the ‘easy way out’ comments have already started 😦

    Like

  3. You always have such a way of putting into words all the complicated feelings. I am so glad that you have Ross, and sad that people can’t recognise what a long and painful journey you had to get here.

    Like

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