One April day, about 4 months after I had put my file on hold, I got a phone call. It was Donna, my counselor from CSP.
Since putting my file on hold, I had been trying to put the surrogacy out of my mind, mostly because I didn’t want to rush weaning Solly, even unconsciously. But I had joined the agency’s surrogate-only Facebook group, and I would see several posts daily from women in every stage of the process–some posting check-ins at the IVF center about to receive an embryo transfers, some complaining about the mood swings and nausea caused by the hormones, some posting proud belly pics, some posting 3 month or 6 month or 2-year pictures of their adorable surro-babies. Most touching of all, though, had to be the posts about their couples (the intended parents or IPs): pictures of them all together at an ultrasound appointment, bragging posts about the care packages they received from their IPs, pics from visits to the IPs and the surro-baby on the baby’s first birthday, or questions about an appropriate Mother’s Day gift for their Intended Mom who is using a surrogate after years of failed infertility treatment. There were also achingly sad posts about failed transfers, miscarriages, surro-babes diagnosed with congenital diseases or chromosomal abnormalities.
One experienced surrogate on her third surro-baby noted that we as surrogate mothers tend to take on our couples’ infertility struggles. Their pain becomes our pain, all their hopes for growing their families gets placed on our shoulders (well, in our uteri), and when there is a failed transfer or no heartbeat at the 8-week ultrasound, we feel it right alongside the parents. With gay couples (I had told CSP that I was specifically interested in working with a gay couple), there is often guilt on the part of the surrogate that the couple has to go to such lengths to have a baby that is biologically related to one of them.
The women I got to know via Facebook obviously love their couples and develop amazingly rich relationships with them. I began to wonder about who I would get matched with and what our relationship would become. I would fantasize about the perfect way to tell them I’m pregnant and the looks on their faces during the anatomy ultrasound. I imagined what the birth would be like and the feeling I would get when the doctor hands them the baby. Just knowing that they were out there, yearning for the child I was going to carry for them, made me eager to get started.
“I didn’t want to do this, ” Donna began, “because I don’t want you to feel pressure to wean before you’re ready. But there’s this couple, and they’re prefect for you.”
Ugh. It was like a punch in the gut. Solly was clearly not ready to wean, and while I was getting there, I was not interested in rushing him. But to have them think of me, out of at least a hundred other women, must mean something. But, no, my kid comes first.
“We’re really not ready yet. How soon are they looking to get started?”
“Right away,” Donna said. “They are very eager.”
Sigh. “I’m sorry, but I just can’t right now.” Pause. “But tell me about them.”
“They are a gay couple, Jewish, Israeli, living in Texas. They are sweet guys who have been wanting to have a baby for 10 years. One is a doctor and the other is an actor and a chef. We don’t get many gay Jewish couples, so I wanted to check to see if you were ready before I passed them off.”
Double sigh. They did sound perfect. “I have to pass. I’m really sorry.”
“Don’t be!” Donna replied. “You have to be ready or it won’t be a good experience for anyone. Just call when you’re weaned. I’m sure we’ll find another couple just as perfect.”
I had a hard time letting that phone call go. I should have been able to logic the regret away–certainly there isn’t just one perfect couple out there for me. There will be another. But for whatever reason, this couple took up residency in my head. I didn’t even know their names, but I often found myself wondering who they got matched with and how everything was going.
A month later, Donna called again, this time just to check in. Coincidentally, Mike and I had night weaned Solly just that week, and the end of the Era of Boobs was in sight. She told me to go ahead and update my profile and make it live so I could begin the matching process.
The matching process! The very idea made my stomach leap and my inner soundtrack switch to show tunes. For mama, make him a scholar. For papa, make him rich as a king… I went straight to my computer, updated my profile, and emailed Donna to let her know I was done. At the end of that email, right before I hit send, I added a post-script: “By the way, what ever happened to that Israeli couple from Texas?”
Donna emailed me back immediately. Turns out they had some sort of delay with their egg donor, and they were not matched yet. Huzzah!
“Can you commit to being weaned by the end of June?” Donna asked.
I thought for a second. Then I thought again. “Yes.”
Two months. I can wean Solly in two months. Uh huh, absolutely. Now this could be a blog all its own, so I won’t go into too much detail. Long story short, it’s currently July 4th and I have not nursed Solly since June 8th. He still asks for it, which is terribly guilt inducing, but what about motherhood isn’t? Here is a typical post-weaning interaction:
“Nurse, peese,” he says, ever so politely.
“We don’t nurse anymore,” I reply, “There’s no more milk.”
All politeness gone, he reaches down my shirt and gives me a full on titty-twister.”Noooooo! Nurse, want nurse! Boobies! Nurse!”
“Do you want chocolate milk instead?”
All screaming stops instantly. “Yeah. Kitchen.”
So the kid is clearly traumatized and I’m sure he’s going to have some weird psycho-sexual chocolate milk fetish when he’s older, but that’s just par for the course, right? Right?!
And now that I have digressed yet again, I will leave you for now with this… because I learned in college that if you mention a show tune in Act I, you better sing that show tune in Act II. Thank you, Chekhov.