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What is it like to bear someone else’s child?

by Jessica Busman

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I was born with the ability to have the number of children I wanted (two) when I was ready to have them (age 27 and 29). As the years have gone by, I’ve found that many women aren’t so lucky. Watching people I love struggle with something that came so easily to me made me want to help others carry out their dream. Thus began my journey as a surrogate.

When I told my husband that I was meant to do this and explained what it would entail, he did not understand. Over time, though, he has come to realize why it was so important for me. Maybe it was seeing our own children grow and imagining life without them, or maybe he just felt that he could trust my judgment. What he knew for sure was that my mind was made up, and there was no changing it.

I didn’t know anyone who had been a surrogate, so I was unsure of how to get started. I did some research, and after exploring many options, I decided to apply to a California surrogacy agency online. The process is a lengthy one; there is the initial pre-qualifying questionnaire followed by a background check, blood test and psychological exam for yourself and spouse, a household check, and, lastly, you’re required to submit all medical files for each of your births. Once this process is complete, your name goes on a list to be matched with a couple in need. When I talked to Brett and Laurel on the phone, I knew they were the couple for me. There was an instant connection; I knew immediately that they were just as determined as I was to make their baby a reality.

The next two and half years would be both joyous and devastating. First of all, I assumed that making a baby for them would be just as easy as it was when I did it on my own. The process was far more complicated. We had 21 embryos and did three IVF transfers over two-and-a-half years. One did not take and the other two were positive pregnancies that ended in miscarriages. Once again, regardless of my positive attitude and intentions, I witnessed the struggle many couples face.

Even more difficult, Laurel was undergoing treatment for cancer, which made the situation feel very time sensitive. But knowing that Laurel had cancer never swayed my decision to help; we all have a clock that is ticking, and who am I to deny a family based on an assumption that her clock might be ticking a little faster? Despite the heartbreak, or maybe because of it, I was determined to get Brett and Laurel a baby. We agreed that one more shot was worth a try, and we had success. I am now 35 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby girl.

The next two and half years would be both joyous and devastating. First of all, I assumed that making a baby for them would be just as easy as it was when I did it on my own. The process was far more complicated.

Weekend before last, I received the devastating news that Laurel had died. It continues to hit me in waves. Along this journey, every time I thought about the life this little girl would lead with these amazing parents, it brought a smile to my face. Every time she kicked or moved around, I was excited to share the moment with them. I know Brett will be an amazing father, and he’ll have the help that he needs to raise his daughter, but I’m crushed knowing that this little girl will never get to meet her inspirational mother. As I see the finish line quickly approaching, I continue to focus on what Laurel wanted out of life. My goal is to make sure this dream of hers becomes the reality she always longed for. If I can do that for her, then maybe my sadness will turn to joy once again.

I think this experience might have been difficult for me if I didn’t have my own family, but because I do, it makes it that much more rewarding. My two girls are very interested in the surrogacy process – I was very open from the beginning about what it means to be a surrogate and they love the fact that I’m helping a couple become a family. I think it helps teach them the power of giving to others.

I know Brett intends to tell the baby how she came into the world. When that day comes, she may want to meet me. I’m ready for that. It would be amazing to see the woman she becomes and to know that I had something to do with her being alive. That makes my heart happy. I never expected for this experience to become so personal, but it has. Sometimes the path we set out on becomes a journey we could never imagine.

Will I feel a sense of loss after the baby is born? I honestly can’t say at this point. I completely accept that this baby belongs to Brett and Laurel, but I fear that it might be hard at the very end because of the surging hormones. I had a normal birth with my first daughter and a C-section with my second, and I think that a C-section will be easier to emotionally handle than pushing for hours and enduring all that pain. So, I’m set to deliver by C-section at the end of July. What I do know is that I will feel a sense of accomplishment. We did what we set out to do. I love being pregnant and I love being able to give someone something they cannot give themselves. I would go through this again in a heartbeat. I am focusing on that.

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