Lupus & Surrogacy: My Wild Journey to Motherhood, Part 2
We had all the determination in the world to start a family on our own. But the blow that dialysis dealt a few years after being diagnosed with lupus kidney disease was too much to overcome. At the time, I was spending up to 10 hours hooked up overnight to a dialysis machine that was, and is, essentially my lifeline.
Weary from all the ups and downs, we still had a strong desire to start a family. These kinds of tests really determine how much you want to go after. We had two options: surrogacy or adoption. We chose surrogacy, but there would be one last blow. Lupus had messed with my reproductive system and I had no eggs to give. Our child would be the product of an egg donor, my husband, and a surrogate. It was the miracle of science but devastating for a woman who just wanted to be “normal” for once.
A financial sacrifice
There’s a misconception that surrogacy is only an option for white people and/or the privileged. And it’s not an unfounded stereotype. I’ve never heard of any black couples going on a surrogacy journey, or at least it wasn’t made known. And the only black surrogate couple I know of is Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade. My husband and I are breaking ground in ways we never thought we would.
Some things fell in our favor that allowed us to finance our surrogacy journey – we sold our house in a hot real estate market and used most of the money for the costs. We also know our surrogate, and she and her husband agreed that she would carry our child for a fraction of the cost that it would be going through an agency.
An emotional sacrifice
One thing I want to make clear is that surrogacy is sacrificial, not only financially, but emotionally, especially for the mother. There seems to be this idea that I’m lucky because I get to bypass pregnancy and be a mother, but I see it as missing precious bonding time.
I had to let go mentally and emotionally with the guidance of my therapist, and accept that my body is not able to carry a child without the high risk that could be detrimental and even life-threatening to me or our baby. Also, the surrogacy medical terms alone are enough to make you feel "not enough." They call my husband and I the “intended parents.” It came across as we had the “intention,” but just couldn’t cross the finish line.
Starting the process
There were still struggles as our baby was in the womb that I wrestled with.
Is the baby going to feel or inherently know that it wasn’t my womb that it grew inside? Are they going to fully accept the story of how they came into this world? Will our bond be different somehow? And the big scary question that I haven’t asked out loud: Will I feel as connected as a mother should be to their child?
The one thing that keeps me grounded is a reminder to myself (and from others) that I am this child’s mother, period. I had to be aggressive with this declaration and say it out loud because the emotions were so overbearing.
We never thought it would take a literal decade to get what we struggled so long for. I traded my dream of power suits for athleisure wear. We were thrilled and terrified, just as any parents, intended or not, would be. Now I can’t imagine not being close to our son, AJ – the spitting image of his father.
Raising our son
He is joy personified and now a very, very busy toddler who is learning the taste of real food. We go through the ups and downs that any parents would, and our bond as mother and son is undeniable. We grew to know and love each other. We have inside games that we play – just the two of us. He speedily crawls to me when he’s afraid, and screams with joy when I rescue him from his crib when he wakes up. I am his mother. I will not sugarcoat my journey and say that it’s easy balancing my health, being a wife and mother, and working full-time. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
It is an understatement to say we took our lumps in getting to this place, and there’s a lot more journey left, but the dream of having our own family was deferred, not denied. For that, I am grateful.
Have you submitted a bonus entry for our awareness month giveaway self-care basket?