Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Talk. (No, not *that* talk ... the other one!)

Almost two months after I got pregnant, we planned a getaway for the October holiday weekend to Tennessee, with our friends Kim and Kenny from Ohio. The kids were THRILLED to see their old friends and for the chance to spend a few days with them. We rented a quaint (code for: dilapidated and stinky) house near the Smoky Mountains, and spent several days sightseeing, hiking, visiting the aquarium, chatting, chasing kids, making s’mores and catching up with one another.

In IVF, when you get the “official” notice that you are pregnant, you are already six or seven weeks along. So by this point, I was about ten to twelve weeks along in the pregnancy. Not really showing a huge amount yet, and for that reason, there hadn’t been any need to mention this surrogacy to my kids. All the months leading up to the transfer, there was no need for them to know what was going on. It was probably silly of me, but I didn’t want to tell the kids until we were certain there was going to be a baby at the end of the process. Obviously, the biology lesson was miles over their heads, and why confuse them about something they couldn’t see for themselves, anyway? I mean, they were only two, three, and four years of age, and quite frankly, they weren’t *that* observant! It wasn’t that I was purposely keeping the information from my kids, it just honestly hadn’t come up.

One afternoon during our weekend, we were hiking to a waterfall. The weather was gorgeous and I was stopping along the way, taking lots of pictures. The adults were scattered along the trail and the kids were able to run ahead, or lag behind, and there was still always a grown-up close by. Suddenly, I felt a small presence next to me, and I looked down to see Brayden walking by my side.

She looked up at me, almost shyly, and said, “I know you have a baby in your tummy.”

To be honest, I was shocked. (Note to Self: Never forget the little pitchers have big ears rule!!!) She must have heard me and Kim discussing it in the vacation shanty house, and she smiled up at me and let me know that my secret wasn’t actually so secret after all.

“Really?” I said, stalling for time, and not quite sure how to respond. “Well, that’s right. What else do you know about it?”

Brayden started talking, with great confidence that she had had things all figured out, “Well, when it’s time, you’ll go to the hospital and the doctor will help take the baby out. Then, you will bring it home and we will love it and feed it and give it food and stuff.” You could tell by her 4-yr old demeanor that she was so pleased with herself for understanding. I hated to burst her bubble, but I knew with certainty that I couldn’t allow her to think the baby was ours to keep.

“Brayden,” I began hesitantly, realizing instinctively that this was one of those IMPORTANT parenting moments, and really wanting to get things right. “Do you remember last summer when we went home to Oklahoma on vacation? And I took you and showed you the hospital where you were born?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“And you remember how I told you that in the hospital, you came out of M’s tummy because Mommy’s tummy was broken, but that Daddy and I were waiting at the hospital for you, and then we brought you home because we are your parents?”

“Yes,” she replied again, more cautiously this time.

“And you remember how your parents are the people who take care of you and love you, and not always the person whose tummy you grow in? Well, this is sort of the same thing. Mommy is growing this baby in her tummy for someone else, whose tummy is broken. And when the baby is born in the hospital, it will go home with its mommy and daddy who will love it and take care of it, just like Daddy and I take care of you.”

Silence. She was obviously absorbing, and processing, and thinking.

I hesitated; worried I had explained it too simplistically. Or too complicated. Too, too … anything. Geez, had I just scarred my child for life?

“So, do you understand what I’m saying?”

Then she looked up at me, with this scrutinizing look on her face, and you could see the wheels in her brain turning.

“Please God,” I prayed a silent prayer, “Please let me have explained that properly so she understands and I didn’t just warp her little mind ……”

Then Brayden asked with finality, and total conviction: “But we WILL still get presents when the baby is born, right?”

And I laughed out loud and assured her that yes, when the baby was born, Daddy and I would make sure that they got presents.

And she said ok, and ran ahead to catch up to the other kids.

And with that, it’s never been questioned again.

I’m so proud to know my girl’s got her priorities straight.


utahsweeney said...

Cute! I think that as parents we worry so much about screwing moments like those up, but children have such simple minds, not warped by years of life yet.

I love that about little kids!

Anonymous said...

That is so sweet. THank you for sharing...God Bless,Jennifer

Trisha in VA said...

I love it! Out of the mouths of babes. If only we could keep some of that innocence as we grow older.

Anonymous said...

I just love how you are telling this story. Thank you for sharing. You are exceptional in many ways.

Deb in NY

Jaymee said...

That is the best way I have ever heard surrogacy explained to a child. I just found this blog, and all I can say is you are an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful moment.

We are just starting out creating our family through surrogacy, and reading this story has been very helpful.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's because I'm adopted, and I did adopt, and I've been a fostermom to 117 babies (as of today), but that story made me both laugh and cry. It's very touching! And, I think, you explained it very, very well!


Anonymous said...

I know why I read daily but rarely comment. You always leave me speachless! That was great


Tammy said...

I must say, perfectly said by you Kristi! The Memorial Day photos are great, thanks for sharing! Your the best!! Hugs from Fort Worth!

Anonymous said...

Oh the important details you forget...it was not a shanty it was a challet! HA! We need to find another one in between...maybe not quite so stinky. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It is fun reliving this time again! Keep on going! :) Kim