Wednesday, June 04, 2008

And the cranky-pants hormones kick in.

As things continued to progress, and my stomach continued to get bigger and bigger, and it became more and more apparent that ,oh, I don’t know, perhaps a BABY would be coming out of it soon, the people around me started getting weirder and weirder. And naturally, being a hormonally-charged pregnant woman, I started getting crankier and crankier with them. When I wasn’t rushing to and from the bathroom all day, that is. How is it that my stomach and ankles get HUGE when I’m pregnant, but my bladder gets teeny-tiny????

I don’t get morning sickness. And since I’ve been pregnant five times (seven if you count the two miscarriages) and I’ve never had a day of it, I feel pretty confident that I’m not going to jinx myself by saying that. Actually, I’m one of those obnoxious people who LOVES being pregnant. I love to feel the baby kicking; I love to see my stomach get big. I feel healthy, and energetic, and fantastic. Sure, I waddle around, and grumble under my breath about the heartburn and carpal-tunnel-ey wrists, and about how ugly maternity swimsuits are, but overall, I love it. Love, love, love it. I don’t *think* I’m speaking an untruth when I say that I don’t complain very much during pregnancy, either, because I’m lucky, and have been fortunate never to have any complications or problems. Bottom line, during my pregnancies there isn’t really anything to complain about, so for the most part, I don’t.

In the last trimester, people --- specifically, the women in my new playgroup, who I did not know well --- started asking me “how was I feeling?” .... a lot. I assumed it was because they could tell from my, ahem, girth, that I was nearing the end, and probably not sleeping well, and getting tired and heavy. But whenever I would chirp back a cheerful, honest “I feel fine, thanks for asking!” I would often get a second, much more solicitous … “But really, how are you FEELING?” Like they were Dr. Phil, and I was some kind of mental patient who needed gentle handling with kid gloves.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that a lot of the people around me expected, and assumed, that I would be having all kinds of mental angst and second thoughts about my role as surrogate. Surely, now that I could feel the baby moving, I must be forming a close emotional bond. Surely, I must be a total basket case anticipating the delivery, and the ultimate act of returning this baby to her parents. Surely, the maternal ache deep in my gut would render me incapable of dealing with this situation in any sort of rational way. Surely, a mental breakdown over the fact I was GIVING THIS BABY AWAY was due any time.

Quite frankly, they were all pissing me off.

If I could be honest --- for surrogates, or at least for me, it felt like a lose-lose scenario. If I told people what they wanted, or expected, to hear, which was that I was worried about how I would feel after delivery, and that I was having second thoughts, and wasn’t sure I would be able to hand over the baby without feeling like I was giving away a part of myself …. Well, if I told them that, I would be a big fat liar. I felt none of those things.

Yes, I felt an attachment to the baby. For goodness’ sake, I’d been taking care of her for the past six or seven months, I would HOPE that I felt some kind of attachment! But not the attachment a mother feels for her child. Simply, the attachment I should feel as a caregiver, which is ultimately what I was. Did I want to protect this baby? And take care of her? And do the very best I could for her? Yes. Did I want to keep her? Did I love her like a child of my own? Did I feel sad, or angry, or depressed, at the thought that **I** wouldn’t be the one bringing her home from the hospital? No. Was I jealous that someone else would be handling the colic and the diaper changes and the 3am feedings??? Hell, no!!

But to say those things out loud made me sound like a cold-hearted shrew. Which I’m not. At least, I don’t think I am. I was actually excited for the delivery, and for the moment I would get to see my IP’s meet their new daughter for the first time. Why did so many people have a hard time understanding that?

Once or twice, I confess to losing my patience. Especially when someone would reply to my carefully thought-out, logical comments, with the response: “Well, I just don’t think I could do it.” Or, “There’s no way I could carry a baby for nine months and then just give it away.” I’ll admit, a few times, I actually answered with: “Well, I have a shriveled up raisin for a heart, so I guess it’s easy for me.” And then just walked away, smiling to myself.

Most of the time though, I simply did my best to state my position clearly …. I care about this baby, and care most about taking care of her until her parents can. And although I had never experienced labor and delivery as a surrogate, I was hopeful that it would be an amazing experience, and one that left me feeling fulfilled and joyful …. Not depressed or jealous or sad.

And any of the new playgroup moms who didn’t seem to understand that ….. well, I just did my best to stay away from them. Normally by excusing myself to use the restroom, since that was one excuse that never seemed suspicious. You know, what with the teeny-tiny bladder and all.


Laurie said...

I always thought I would love to be a surrogate. I love, love, love being pregnant...but only in the third trimester, if that makes any sense. I'm due with our second child in five weeks, and I'm in heaven...bed rest heaven, but heaven. That said, I have the WORST time with morning sickness - I was sick at least TWENTY TIMES A DAY during my first trimester, and that was with Zofran on board!

Sooooo....I'll just give up my dream of surrogacy.

I'm enjoying reading about your surrogacy, though. And I'm sorry that people can be so asinine about "giving up" the baby. Sheesh.

cakeburnette said...

too many people are dumb. And you WERE living in Alabama--not known for it's population of brilliancy (which I why I moved to GA--HAH!). Just kidding--don't anybody from AL send Kristie or me hatemail because I'm actually from there and most of my (brilliant) family still lives there.

Trish in VA said...

It still amazes me how outright rude people can be. I think I may have had to tell those people that "not everyone is that selfish". I know, I know. But sometimes I can't help myself and thoughts in my head just kinda "slip" out of my mouth!

Stacie from MN said...

I know exactly what you mean! I get the same comments from people about foster care. I'm not, nor do I think you are, a heartless person. But, just because a child lives in my home for several months does not mean that everything is wonderful & I love them to no end and whatever. It means I will do my best to care & provide for them WHILE THEY ARE IN MY HOME. By the time they leave, I am usually at the point where I've had their bags packed for a week & they are sitting at the curb (LOL)

Rene S said...

Sometimes I think people say insensitive things out of plain ignorance. I remember talking to my my first friend to be pregnant and being shocked by what was said to her. Having had a friend lose a child, I realize how many insensitive things can be said. But, I'll say I learned vicariously through these experiences. Kristie, I've never known a person to go through surrogacy, but you sharing your story has helped (I hope) insure I won't open my mouth and ask stupid questions if I am ever in the situation.

Jane said...

Okay, I'm a "stalker" from waaay back. I believe I started reading your site right about the time you came up with the crap sandwich scenario/story thingy, which is brilliant by the way and really got me interested in reading. Yes, I know you hate "stalkers", but I'm a busy mom myself, with a part-time medical transcription job that I do at home, and checking your blog is just part of my daily routine. I check it, laugh, and get on with my household duties.

Anyway,I feel compelled to write because I gotta say that between your friends (Sorry EP) and these other people in your life - man, you sure know a lot of freakin' idiots!! Sorry, that wasn't nice, but I typed it with a smile on my face, so I don't mean that in a mean way, ya know? Honestly, though, how hard it is for people to actually read what you write? A perfect example is when you turned 40 and you were like complaining about achy bones or something and some ass wrote saying you should be thankful for Kendrie's health instead of complaining... They obviously didn't read your blog before that date, right?!!

Alright, I just had to get that off my chest. I love your blog and look forward to reading it everyday. Thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Kristie, I'm in this exact situation right now. I'm currently almost 6 months pregnant as a surrogate. I honestly don't know how to properly answer all the dumb questions and comments I get.
"That better be a REALLY good friend"
"I hope you're getting paid for this"
"I could never give up a baby"
Most of the time I just don't answer. I wish they would leave all the details to us and focus on the fact that a lovely family will soon have a/another baby to love. Whew, I obviously needed to get that off my chest! Thanks for all of your honesty in your posts.

CAT said...

Hey Kristie,

I am sure that people who say these things don't actually think before they speak. And I am sure that they don't give it a second thought after they have made their comment.

I think you handled the situations perfectly. No matter what, people are always going to say inappropriate comments about everything and anything so all you can do is present yourself in a positive manner and still come out shining, and that is exactly what you seem to be able to do. Keep up the good work!

Have a great day!


Anonymous said...

I really have enjoyed reading about your surrogate journey and have learned quite a bit from it. May I say that reading some of the comments that you received during the pregnancy more people than might admit have thought these. Now let me clarify...I would NEVER think to say these things to someone that has chosen to do this. I admire the fact that there are people in this world that would do this for others for no other reason than because they truly want to help. It takes a speacial kind of person to do many different things in life and not everyone will understand how or why those people do what they do but so what if you don't understand why I am able to do what you can't wrap your mind around. You know I love old people but I don't think I could work in a nursing home taking care of them or in a childrens hospital seeing sick children on a daily basis it would be more than I could handle but I am so grateful that there are people in the world that CAN do this.That's there calling. What you provide for these families is something so wonderful and beyond words. Again I admire what you do for the families that you have helped and I'm sure that those comments made you want to rip the tounges straight from their mouth and shove it up their butt..maybe they just don't have that thing called tact!

Dana in SC

Tricia said...

The idea that pregnancy is the beginning of mother child bonding is deeply rooted in our culture. I'm not sure we can really blame people for their thought process. The reality is that surrogacy is not main stream, it's still on the fringe. We hear and read adoption stories where a bio mom HAS to give up her child because of A, B, or C situation. We think of motherhood as something that begins in utereo and really, can we expect Jane Smith who's never had a problem conceiving to understand the very idea of surrogacy? I don't think so. I often had some of the same questions for our surrogate...I had moments when I was affraid she'd become attached...after all, isn't that what everyone expects...everyone expects that because you have a child growing inside of you, you must be attached to it. I'm not so sure the comments are insensitive as they are simply baffled by a lifetime of cultural training and assumptions. It takes a lot of brain twisting for the average Jane to understand surrogacy and I'm so glad you're helping to dispell some of the myths by sharing your experiences.

Mama Bear said...

I find this story absolutely amazing. You are a hero!

Unlike you, I had horrible pregnancies, vomiting at least once a day through the 7th month. No such thing as morning sickness; it was all day sickness. I lost 22 pounds in the first trimester.

So there is no way I would even consider taking on such a feat for someone else (though I did have 3 kids!). But I want you to know I'm so glad you did - and so very glad you are sharing your story.

lizinsumner said...

Wow - I guess some people are a lot gutsier than I could ever be when it comes to asking other people personal questions. But now that you're getting closer to delivery (in the story, I realize!!) - my only question is - did you get it in writing that it would be okay with the IP's that you could have an epidural if you needed one (and that you would be the final determiner of what "needs an epidural" means)???? Because I could've never signed on without that guaranty - I LOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEDDDD my epidural!

Anonymous said...

Your experiences and feelings are so much like those of a fosterparent. If you come up with a one-liner that'll stop those "I could never do what you do" people in their tracks, I'd love to hear it. I've tried being nice, educating them, being sarcastic (which is all to easy for me) and all I get is a glazed expression. I guess some "highly evolved" people just don't understand the possibility of doing something to make someone else's life better just because!