In 2015, I experienced infidelity, pregnancy loss, a new job, single motherhood, the financial stress of separation and divorce, and my son reacting to all this upheaval, along with the series of firsts as a single mom: first new apartment, first solo day of school, first solo Halloween, first year of solo Christmas planning, etc . It was, to say the least, a very stressful time.
I had always wanted more children but made a personal decision after my marriage failed this that my son and I along with our new puppy were perfect as a trio. No missing pieces, but a real family – full stop. That being said, I had a fairly easy pregnancy with him and frankly, loved the sidecar of pregnant life: gender reveals, ultrasounds, bump clothing and the way my body looked, etc. While no one wakes up one morning and says, “Hey! I want to go through all kinds of legal, health and personal landmines to hopefully give a deserving couple a baby!” surrogacy was something that lingered in the back of my mind and I realized that I could give a deserving couple something that came rather easily to me. I know first hand how brilliant, enriching, confronting and wonderful parenthood can be and wanted to leave a similar legacy for someone else.
My decision to become a surrogate wasn’t one I took lightly, but I would look at my beautiful boy and know that while I will never get a wing named after me in a hospital, cure cancer or open a soup kitchen – I can, in a small and meaningful way, greatly change the lives of two people who deserve to know the joy, fun and unrelenting challenge of raising children. And while all those tropes are lovely and inspiring, I had some very serious logistical issues to navigate before embarking on my decision.
Another factor that influenced me was the general state of the world in 2016. There were terrorist attacks happening faster than the news cycle could keep up (Paris ,Bataclan, Nice, London, Brussels, San Bernardino, Orlando, etc.), the election in the United States was contentious, interactions with my ex had become acrimonious and litigious, the war in Syria was getting worse by the day with thousands of refugees risking life and limb to escape to Europe, there was also Brexit, Zika and the Panama Papers.
Every time I logged on there was just a pile-on of bad news. I was in full-on scroll fatigue and either had to shut off the internet entirely (impossible in my line of work ) or make a dedicated effort to self-care, sleep and general wellness. Surrogacy contracts, intended parent interviews, two rounds of in-vitro fertilization and eventual pregnancy launched me into a much-needed state of TLC, forcing me to ignore the never-ending “ping” of my inbox and notifications on my iPhone, the endless pull of daily distractions, and instead create physical and mental margin for slowing down.
I say this often (and I realize it sounds hackneyed): I needed her (the gestating baby), as much as she needed me.
Giving birth as a surrogate mother (in Canada, anyway) means you cannot be compensated for your efforts. My emergency c-section was unexpected and there were many medical professionals involved. Once you think the hard works is over, you are confronted with endless paperwork afterward to ensure the baby is immediately transferred legally to her parents. This sucked precious time out of my short maternity leave which I was looking forward to but didn’t get to enjoy.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. The friendship and bond we have formed are unique and special. Almost every day I get pictures of a beautiful baby girl I helped bring into this world but whose diapers I don’t have to change. She just turned one and is the apple of her parents’ eyes. My son – tasked with increased responsibilities due to my bedrest and surgery recovery – now boasts proudly about the meals he can make, the clothes he can (sloppily) fold, speaks lovingly about his “sister” who lives far away, and our relationship is closer than I could have ever imagined. And while it may have taken a circuitous route for me to figure out that while I had been hanging my hat on the idea that a family is two adults and some children – that isn’t true. No matter how your definition of family expands and contracts or how you got there, motherhood is magic and extending that title to someone else was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Author: Stéphanie Plante
Link to social media: Twitter @specialballot