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2 friends…

I called Jen one night and told her the opportunity I had been praying for was just dropped in my lap.

Surrogacy kind of has a bad name in Utah. Maybe not a bad name, but it’s so foreign that people are immediately scared of something they don’t understand.

My journey was FILLED (to the brim) with love and support from my neighbors and friends. But some of my best surrogate friends have received exactly the opposite.

You see, our church (The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints) (or Mormons) doesn’t have a very clear stance on surrogacy. It’s official stance is only that “Surrogacy is discouraged.”

3 little words are all we get from the men we look toward for guidance.

In the past 2 years on this journey I have come to realize that Surrogacy, in the traditional sense, in discourage. Traditional Surrogacy involves the Surrogate using her own egg, and being artificial inseminated with the biological father’s sperm.  Luckily for us, Traditional Surrogacy is also illegal in Utah.

I am a Gestational Carrier. Meaning NONE of the physical DNA comes from me. It either all comes from the parents or one source can come from a donor.

So while we use the term “surrogate,” We really aren’t!

(A true surrogate was someone like Mary. Kind of ironic that a church developed around the outcome of that surrogate journey looks down on surrogacy, right?)

I have been lamenting nonstop on ways to make Surrogacy (GC) more mainstream in Utah. To gain some love and acceptance for those facing nothing but opposition from those who don’t understand.

Isnt it human nature to be scared of something you don’t understand?

When I had the opportunity to sit down with a reporter from the Deseret News, I knew without a doubt that I wanted the chance. But because of confidentiality agreements, I knew the article couldn’t be about the baby and the family I just helped. I needed another angle.

I needed Jen.

2 best friends, 2 surrogates, Both underwent IVF on the same day, Both pregnant with boys, Both babies of the same (non-American) nationality, Delivering 2 weeks apart, Both Mormon.

I knew the story needed to be about us, and about how NORMAL we are and how NORMAL surrogacy just fit into our (Mormon) lives.

The interview was HARD. We wanted to share so much more than we were contractually allowed to share. We thought about every word out of our mouths so it sounded right. We communicated with just looks when we didn’t know how to answer a question the “right” way. All the while, I thought of every possible way that the author could twist and contort our words into something we DIDN’T mean. It was a stressful evening, for me. I worried about how much would be shared about the babies and families we helped. I worried if the article would have and overall positive attitude. (We shared a lot of our sad times and a lot of our happy times. She could have chosen just one side to show.)

When she emailed me to say her editor was requiring the country that my IP’s were from, I made up a country and hoped they would understand.

Then we she announced she needed to take our picture, we both looked down at our  3 month post partum bellies and groaned.

But weeks later, the article is published and I couldn’t be more proud.

Thank You Cathy. You delivered EXACTLY the message I wanted to share.

We are NORMAL people. We are moms. We are friends. We are just offering help where we can.


Deseret News

Two women, nine months and the gift of family

By Cathy Free , Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, July 11 2012 12:16 p.m. MDT

Ryley Eaton, left, and her friend, Jen Holt, became surrogate mothers to
Ryley Eaton, left, and her friend, Jen Holt, became surrogate mothers to “pass along the joy of becoming a family,” says Eaton. (Cathy Free)

MURRAY — The tears came late at night when the hospital room was quiet and she was alone for the first time in months.

There were tears of happiness for the couple who were finally cuddling a baby of their own, the boy she had given birth to just a few hours before. And there were also tears of sadness — not because she regretted her decision to become a surrogate mother, but because one of the most wonderful experiences of her life was over.

[Read more…]

Right foot then left foot…

I hate talking about this kind of stuff.
I don’t want to scare people away from surrogacy, or see those pity eyes that silently say “I knew she wouldn’t be able to handle this.”
Oh and please don’t treat me like that girl that is always emotional about it.
I promise you, I’m fine. I just want to share. Stick with me.

There are transitions you face in this process.
I KNOW they are there, I’ve seen close friends go through them.
Knowing they are coming doesn’t make them easier.
Today I entered the next one.
it’s been hard.

Every 2 days for 10 weeks Ive met up with my new family to hand over milk for my little buddy.
I was SO happy that they wanted me to provide milk for him and SO happy my body cooperated.

But the time is coming to an end. He’s slowly being transitioned to formula and I’m in milk freezing mode so he can continue on his Auntie Ryley’s milk for at least another month part time.

This officially the longest I’ve gone without seeing someone in the family, IN MONTHS!

All the sudden my subconscious is screaming “HE DOESN’T NEED YOU ANYMORE.”
And my spirit is crushed.

As much as I know that isn’t true, it’s just another transition.
When I’m done pumping for him, my “job” will be officially over.

It’s a tough pill to swallow.
its just one more step in this journey.
One I know I can take with confidence, and one I know I look back on and laugh.

But now….. it’s a hard step to take.

Right foot out of this journey and left foot into the next..


Join me today..

Will you join me today over at Today’s Mama??

This post means so much to me. Caught somewhere between two places that I didn’t (maybe even, don’t) know exist.

That fine balance between being family, or being a business transaction. Wanting more. And “what happens now.”

“I think it’s a pretty common surrogate feeling to want to know what the intended parents want from your relationship.
But as I try so desperately to put my feet in their shoes, I wonder; “Would I even know what I want?”
It’s a strange, crazy relationship.
I don’t know that I’ve ever stopped to ponder what kind of relationship I want to have with someone who will carry and ultimately birth my child.”

I am A Surrogate Mother.

Oh nothing, just birthing babies for other people.

Sometimes I get in my car and forget to turn the radio on.
Some days the brief silence is refreshing and renews my soul.

Lately, any moment of silence leads my thoughts to the same place.

I had another woman’s egg placed in my body.
I carried a baby that wasn’t mine.
I gave birth to someone else’s baby.
I handed them their baby and went home alone.

If you find me staring into space and can’t shake me out of my thoughts, that’s where I am.

I keep meaning to ask my other surrogate friends if they get stuck in these moments too.

I’ve said before that the whole things feels like a dream, and that still hasn’t changed. I can’t believe it actually happened.

I have that whole feeling of the world spinning around me while I’m standing still.

While I was pregnant, people would arbitrarily ask when I was due. It was my outlet to talk about being a surrogate and make surrogacy more mainstream. I loved that part.

Now 6 weeks postpartum no one has any clue what I just went through and did. (That sounds as if it has a negative connotation.. it doesn’t, I promise.) I see a newborn and ask one of the parents how old they are, when they say 6 weeks I want to shout “I HAD A BABY 6 WEEKS AGO, TOO.” But I don’t. I just smile.

One of my best surrogate friends was commenting, as we both inhaled bites of  froyo, how there are pregnant women and newborns EVERYWHERE. How the two of us were JUST pregnant, but no one knows that. In turn, I lamented how great I feel and feel like I look after just 6 weeks, but when you’re not carrying a baby no one comments how great you look for just being 6 weeks postpartum. No one has any idea.

Do you think a forehead tattoo is too radical?

What REALLY happened..

                                                                                   {5 pound babies are REALLY tiny}

There are a lot of unknowns when you’re a surrogate. The only one I worried about CONSTANTLY was what would happen after the birth. I want to give an honest look at what REALLY happened. So I remember and do others know what they might experience.

Because he was born at 36 weeks things didn’t go exactly as we’d planned.

After an incredibly short 2 hours Baby Chuck came barreling into the world. Into a room FILLED with a NICU staff. He was whisked away pretty quickly and I was left alone with my doula and doctor. While Baby Chuck’s family went with him. Immediate breast feeding didn’t happen like I’d hoped. Instead I lay in bed as they tried to prevent me from hemorrhaging, and I worried about Baby Chuck. Eventually (about an hour or more) I was wheeled to my recovery room and the nurse was sweet enough to take me past the nursery so I could see the baby getting his first bath. Everyone ran out to ask how I was doing and to make sure I was ok. It meant so much to me that they cared do much about me still.

It was still awhile before they all came into my room with the baby. But I was so happy to see him well.
I grieved a little that he was drinking formula and too little/sleepy to breast feed well. But we still tried. And I started pumping right away.

The evening approached and the family went to their room beside mine. There was no one with me. I was all alone in my room at the end of the hall. I was exhausted but still had birth endorphins. Before I realized it was 1am. I didn’t sleep much the first night. Maybe sneaking in an hour or two between nurse visits.

The second day was good. I had friends visiting, baby snuggles and good times with everyone. The day FLEW by.
Saturday night it hit. I knew I was going to experience some sadness but I didn’t know when it would come. The second night was it for me. Everyone left my room after dinner and the tears started. Not just small cute tears. The big huge ugly snotty kind. I cried and cried and cried.

It was hard for me to explain (even to myself) but I WASN’T crying because I missed the baby or WANTED the baby. I didn’t. He was right where he belonged. I was sad it was over. I wasn’t ready. (though, frankly, I don’t know if I would have ever been “ready”)

I got out of bed Friday morning, after not sleeping well and went to my doctors appointment. I was only 36 wks. I wasn’t supposed to be in labor.  2 hours later a baby was born. I never had time to process it. I wasn’t ready for it to be over.
I never got to that uncomfortable part of pregnancy. I never got huge. I wasn’t ready for it to be over.

I knew it would happen but the shift of attention was hard for me.

While his family was still so concerned about my well being, their attention was no longer completely on me, like it had been for the 36 weeks before.

I knew their attention was right where it belonged. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard.

As the nurses rotated in Saturday night they all were taken back by the breakdown going on in my room. And surprised as they made their second visit and I was STILL crying. They weren’t really sure what to say or if there was anything they could say to make things better. There wasn’t. It was just something I had to go through. I was mourning the end of this journey and the unknown if what would happen in the morning when we said our goodbyes. They smiled and nodded as I recounted the whole 36 weeks over and over and how happy I was.

I didn’t sleep one minute of Saturday night. I told one nurse that I secretly hoped Sunday just wouldn’t come. She told me it didn’t work that way, but she’d be there for me when it happened.

Of course Sunday came.

And it was such a healing day. I was so worried about crying in front of his family. Worried that they wouldn’t understand why I was crying and it would scare them.

There was not a single tear on Sunday. The sweet nurses gave us time to “check out” instead of making us leave at the normal 11am. As much as I had dreaded the “pity eyes” after delivery, I was actually thankful for them because the pity was giving me more time.

I was able to spend my first alone time with the baby. Time I thought I so desperately needed, but when it came down to it, It was already so evident that he was no part of me. My voice, my smell, it didn’t sooth him like I thought it would. It was like he was never a part of me. Never inside of my body. He was THEIR baby. As I dressed him in his going home outfit I looked at him, told him thank you for choosing me. And for being such a good baby. But that I was so glad he was with his mommy now. I truly was.

My family arrived. We packed up, cleaned up. I put on real clothes for the first time too. I hugged everyone. We posed for pictures then I carried my big boy as we walked down the hall and out of the hospital where I officially became a surrogate mother.

I eagerly texted a few friends from the lobby that I was so happy and didn’t have a single regret.
While I still hadnt come to grips with it being over so quickly I was so happy that I got to be the mom to my own little boy again.

I’ll cherish everyone of those moments that weekend and everyone of those tears because they were all a part of my amazing journey. But I’m thankful to know what to expect for next time. (YES, next time!!)