It’s been one year since I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. It was a day that was exciting and life-changing, as most birth days are. But the anniversary of this birth looks a little different from when we celebrated the first birthdays of my two children.
That’s because this baby wasn’t mine. She was a surrogate baby.
As soon as she exited my body, she went into the arms of her parents and that is where she has remained.
I’ve seen the baby a handful of times in person and over Skype. I've kept in touch with her parents and received a few photographs over the past year. Other than that, my day-to-day life hasn’t really changed. Any why should it?
I can still remember the first year of my son’s life. He was my first baby and that whole year of his life was a constant learning experience. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing and my life was forever changed. When my daughter came along, her whole first year was also a learning experience. Juggling two young children and my own sleep deprivation was a challenge to behold. I remember breathing a sigh of relief on her first birthday and high-fiving my husband, “We did it! We survived!”
The first year of the surrogate baby’s life has been easy…for me. Obviously, I haven’t had to wake up in the middle of the night or breastfeed at all hours. I haven’t had to change blow-out diapers or navigate an ever-changing nap schedule.
There have been times when I have forgotten that I even gave birth at all. It almost feels like a dream. Did this really happen? Was I pregnant? Did I give birth? But it did happen. And there’s a chubby-cheeked, blue-eyed, smiling one-year-old to prove it.
I’m not the same person I was before this experience.
Even if my daily life hasn’t changed, my heart and my worldview have expanded. I’m not the same person I was before this experience. I now have a whole new family that I care deeply for. I now have compassion for those who struggle with infertility. I now have a greater understanding that the world isn’t black and white, there’s a lot of gray. And I now have a deeper appreciation for my own wonderful family who has supported me throughout the whole surrogacy.
People ask me all the time if I would ever do another surrogacy. The answer is no. And it’s not because this was a bad experience that I don’t wish to relive. It’s because this was a sweet and wonderful adventure. I don’t wish to mar it by doing it again only to have it blow up in my face somehow.
This family was just the right family for me. The pregnancy was easy and free of complications. The couple I helped was sweet and kind. It was special. I don’t wish to try to replicate it. It can’t be replicated. This was it. This is what I wanted to do, this is what I felt called to do, and I did it.
It’s done now.
We can all go on living our lives and though it may seem to those on the outside as if this whole experience was no big deal, it was a big deal. It changed us. It didn’t change our day-to-day life or our family dynamic, but it did change us on the inside. It bonded us to a whole family for life. And I will always look back on my surrogacy with fondness and thankfulness.