Lightly running your finger over your new baby’s milky skin. Taking in every little inch of the new life. Breathing in the smell of belonging and innocence. Recognizing your features, or your husband’s, written all over the tiny face. It’s one of the sweetest moments of motherhood…one I had longed for each and every time I gave birth, except for my most recent delivery. The last time I carried a child, I didn’t long for those precious first moments. You see, I was carrying the baby for a mother who had not yet had her moment. A mother who had waited much longer, and longed much deeper, than I ever had. And that moment, that gift I was able to give to another, was the moment I couldn’t wait for.
My journey was easy from the start. I decided I wanted to be a surrogate—something I’d wanted to do for a long, long time, but timing and life wasn’t right yet. Then finally I knew I was done having my own kids, but my body was still very able to grow a life. The time was right. My husband was very supportive and encouraging. My older children stated that they were “proud I was doing this,” but my youngest—who was wishing for a little sister—said “you’re ridiculous.” His little mind could not understand why I would give a baby away, especially when he specifically asked for a sister.
I knew that the first intended parent profile my coordinator sent to me was “the one.” Reading about their struggles brought tears to my eyes. We matched right away and instantly hit it off. The transfer was just as easy. I was pregnant on the first try. We had transferred two embryos: one boy and one girl. When we went in to hear the heartbeat and see the tiny peanut for the first time, we saw that only one baby was in there. I was excited that the new mom, my Intended Mother (IM), was going to have to wait, like every other mother, to know if she should buy everything in pink or blue.
As the baby grew and I could feel the flutters. It was a strange experience because I wasn’t like “aww, my baby!” Instead, I rushed to my phone and quickly messaged my IM.
“I just felt your baby move!” I wanted her to be part of every precious moment.
The anatomy scan was exciting. We waited as the tech shifted the probe around in the jelly. She drifted over the baby’s genitals and left us in suspense until she got all of her required images. The baby was growing perfectly, and she was a girl! My IM started talking about her name right away. She had a family name that she had carried in the pocket of her heart for the “if” she ever had a little girl. Her name was going to be Kathyrn.
The planning was different, as you can imagine. I didn’t have to set up a nursery or fold and reorganize every itty-bitty piece of soft, pink clothing. Those details were left to my IM, and I know she cherished every second. Instead, I sat back, took care of myself and my little belly buddy, and waited for those first moments that belonged to her eagerly expecting mother.
Everyone knows that an expecting mother has a glow about her, especially in the final months. While I was excited for my IM, my heart also hurt for her too because she wouldn’t get to experience all the things, like the feeling of her baby growing inside of her or that glow. But, I believed that God would find a way to make sure she didn’t miss anything, and I saw that evidence when we met to tour the labor and delivery department and lay out all the plans. When I laid eyes on my IM after not having seen her for a couple of months, she was most definitely glowing. She was stunning!
The delivery went beautifully. My Intended Parents (IPs) were with me every step of the way, along with my husband. Kathryn came out as her mother watched. The look my IM had on her face when she finally saw her daughter will be etched in my heart forever.
When Kathryn’s dad approached to cut the umbilical cord, I saw his re- rimmed eyes and joy all over his face. The happiest tears rained down my cheeks.
Then, when my IPs had their baby and were sitting on the couch next to me, the doctor leaned in a little as she finished cleaning me up. She whispered, “Look at that.” I looked over at my IPs and watched them completely falling in love with their baby, finally having a deep yearning fulfilled. Then the doctor said, “You did that for them.”
When I tell people about my journey, the common response I get is “I could never carry a baby and give it away,” and many surrogates respond with “that was the best part!” My response is a little different. Sure, I tell them that it was the best part, but I add that ultimate gifts often come with a little sacrifice, and being able to help a mother have her first precious moments with a baby she never thought she could have was a gift worth sacrificing for.