Of course every birth is special, and naturally every surrogacy is different. There’s always a different (yet similar) set of circumstance surrounding the couple and their history and their reasons for using a surrogate. All variations on a theme.
But aside from the practical similarities, I found each surrogacy to have its own theme, its own particular point of view. I’m not always aware of it as the pregnancy and birth is happening, but as time goes by, the lens from which I view the experience comes into focus.
This surrogacy, my fourth one, was the time I made a big sister.
Some surrogates choose to work only with parents who are childless, which is an understandable choice. Though the first three couples I worked with were in fact childless, I never limited myself to that, it just happened to work out that way.
But this time was different. The couple already had one child, a daughter they’d had themselves. Shortly after she was born, the mother developed a health condition that required long-term treatment, and the medications used weren’t compatible with pregnancy, and they wanted more children. So that’s where I came in.
We transferred two embryos and upon first look via ultrasound, the doctor declared me pregnant with one baby. I wasn’t so sure about that, so I asked about a shadowy spot I saw on the screen. He brushed it off as nothing.
Two weeks later “nothing” was of course another baby. (I knew it all along)
Baby #2 looked good, however the gestational sac around the baby didn’t look quite normal, it measured small even though the baby itself was exactly the right size. It was uncertain what would happen.
Thankfully all looked perfect with baby #1.
I was about 12 weeks along when I was resting on my bed and felt a tiny but sudden pinch in my lower abdomen. It was fleeting, yet unmistakable to me (even though I’d never experienced anything like it before). In that one split-second pinch I knew that we’d lost the baby.
An ultrasound the next day confirmed my suspicion.
But it also confirmed that the other baby was still growing perfectly healthy and strong.
A few weeks later the parents asked if I’d like to have a homebirth and my heart sang. I’d loved my homebirth with Aster, not only for the experience of laboring and birthing at home, but mostly for sharing the birth with my other children. It was a thrill to think about having another experience like that and I couldn’t believe they were considering it.
Homebirth is rare as it is but even rarer in the surrogacy world. But this couple had faith in me, my body, and their baby and we were eager to experience this together at home. Although they asked if I’d be most comfortable having the baby in my house, I actually wanted to give birth in theirs. I wanted the baby to arrive in her own home, not mine. I wanted this to be their homebirth, as well as mine.
The pregnancy, like usual, was healthy and easy for me and two days before my due date, labor began in the wee hours of the morning. Because my labors are fast and I was worried about morning rush hour traffic, we headed to their house early, arriving by 6am.
It was a grey, rainy day, the kind that’s just perfect for passing under the covers in bed.
I immediately headed upstairs to their loft area on the third floor. It was a spacious light-filled room that had an amazingly comfortable king size bed. In the sitting room that adjoined the bedroom was a couch, the birthing pool and a bathroom.
They’d already filled the pool for me.
I labored on the bed for several hours. Our midwife stayed in the sitting room until the contractions started to get unmanageable and I moved to the birthing pool.
At that point she moved into the bedroom, to give me my space.
The couple wanted to focus on me and the birth experience, so their daughter had gone out with her grandmother that morning. As morning turned into afternoon, the rain had stopped, the clouds had cleared, and the sun was starting to come out. It was time to deliver a baby.
The contractions and the pain and the urge to push built and built and built until early in the afternoon Mackenzie Ann was born in the water, in her own home, greeted by her parents, our midwife, and Doug in the sunshine of the loft.
Within a few minutes Mackenzie’s big sister appeared, her arms full of flowers for me. She and her grandma were back home to admire the new baby.
Her new baby. A big sister was born. She got to cut the cord. (being the big sister and all)
I stayed with them for a few days, nursing baby Mackenzie on demand and resting and recovering in their loft while sharing meals at their kitchen table. We had salmon one day, they’d cooked it on the grill.
It was the most delicious salmon I’ve ever had.
I don’t think that was any coincidence, since it was one of the most special births I’ve ever had too.
Happy birthday sweet Mackenzie, may this day and all your days be as special as the day you were born to us.