Just the other day I was reading the Dec 2005 issue of Chatelaine magazine looking for cookie recipes to make with the little girl I nanny. After marking some recipes, and making note of the cute outfits I'd like to copy, I got to the last page and the Letters to the Editor. Several were regarding a past column Special Delivery by Jay Somerset, about surrogate pregnancy.
A reader wrote this Letter to the Editor regarding surrogacy:
"Surrogacy commodifies babies, and all the abandonment issues that plague adopted children also affect those born from surrogacy -- with one important difference. While an adoptee is usually aware his mother was forced by circumstances to relinquish him, a child born to a surrogate knows he went to another family in exchange for money, and his abandonment was planned before he was even conceived. Anyone who tells you surrogacy is a beautiful, selfless gesture is either uninformed or has gained from the transaction."
I was shocked. Absolutely floored at her words. For one thing, I think she's a righteous bitch. For another thing, I think she's totally wrong.
Surrogacy is –- according to Wikipedia -– “an arrangement whereby a woman agrees to become pregnant for the purpose of gestating and giving birth to a child for others to raise”. Wikipedia also goes on to say: “She may be the child's genetic mother (the more traditional form of surrogacy), or she may be implanted with someone else's fertilized egg (gestational surrogacy).” Wikipedia, as I read further, does acknowledge that the gestational surrogacy is now the more common type of surrogacy.
I have to disagree with wikipedia -– I personally feel that if the surrogate is the child's genetic mother, the process is different –- it's an official Adoption, NOT a surrogacy. Gestational surrogacy is, for me, the only way I'd have a surrogate child or to carry one. That seems to me the best way to avoid the 'abandonment' feelings the child might have otherwise. “You are your father's and my actual genetic material. Despite not being able to carry you -– you ARE our child.”
Since I was 18, I've thought about donating my eggs. For free, not profit. Although, to be perfectly honest, in 1999 when I heard of a newspaper ad seeking the eggs of a 'Blond woman, fit, 5'10 or taller, high IQ and SAT scores...' and offering $50,000 for the right person, my interest was even more piqued.
In the last few years, I've thought about being a surrogate mother, and talked to Adrian about it. I figured 'Hell, I knew a woman who spent over $100,000 on fertility treatment and still couldn't get pregnant' -– can't I help with that? I'm young, I'm healthy, what's the problem? Adrian, not surprisingly, wanted to have our kids first. Also he wanted details -– I didn't have to have sex with the fathers-to-be, right? (The answer is no, by the way.) I completely understood and agreed with the desire to have our offspring before worrying about having someone else's.
This may be harder to accomplish than you'd think.
Since I was 15, the results of my yearly pelvic exam have always been abnormal. Which is FINE, they tell me, JUST FINE. It's not bad, it's just not like everybody else, and it's nothing to worry about -– just keep getting your check-ups. Between 18 and 20, though, I didn't have insurance and didn't go. At 21 (while dating the asshole cop who I later found out was cheating on me) I finally went for my next pelvic exam. The results were different, this time.
Instead of the usual reassuring phone message letting me know my results, I got called back for an appointment. An appointment where I found out that my 'cells were starting to change' and were 'pre-cancerous'. I needed to come back every three months for follow-up exams to determine whether the change was due to HPV or Cervical Cancer.
I remember being so freaked out once I left that I couldn't drive. Cancer. And me. In the same sentence. I didn't even consider the alternative, that I potentially had HPV. The possibility of having a sexually transmitted disease didn't occur to me -– I was in a committed relationship, for pete's sake! Later, I found out that HPV has over 100 strains and only about 30 of which are sexually transmitted. I found out lots of things later I didn't know at that time. Maybe I didn't ask enough questions. Maybe they didn't offer enough information.
It took me another two years to go back to a doctor. I know, I know. That's the dumbest thing I could have done. I had excuses, but none of them were all that good. Even without insurance, there are ways to get taken care of. I was just scared. And at that point in time, I never wanted to have kids. Not with that guy, at least.
Things change, as they do. Adrian and I very much want children. Hell, I want twins! We both thought I'd get 'knocked up' right away, so we waited and were careful.
In 2005, before moving up here, I had an exam done and got on birth control. That was the first Normal exam I've ever had, and it made me really happy. Last year, same. Woot! But being on birth control makes me crazy emotional and unstable. This girl does NOT need extra hormones. I even tried a low-dose birth control to the same effect. So, around August of last year I stopped taking birth control at all. Instead we used other methods, some of which we both really dislike (especially being married and all). Some methods were decidedly more fun than others, especially when I got to reply to my mother's repeated and annoying “Are you pregnant yet?” with “You can't get pregnant on the face, mom.”
It's been about six months since we made the 'Let Nature Sort It Out' choice and haven't practiced any kind of safe sex at all -– unless you count safe 'words'.
And I'm getting nervous. I'm not TRYING to get pregnant, I'm just not trying NOT to. And I'm worried that I'm broken.
Here we are, letting nature do what it will, and nature hasn't shown any signs of blessing us yet. I haven't even begun to think of infertility drugs or other forms of conception yet –- and won't for several more years, but those Letters to the Editor caught my eye. So I read the article.
It's amazing how much changes in just a few years. I went from wanting to help others discover the joy of having children (and the nightmares that come with) to wondering if I'm going to face the same challenges that so many families have already gone through. Will I somehow transition from Potential Surrogate Mother to potentially needing the aid of a surrogate mother?
I'm giving it a while longer. The psychic said I'd have my first of three at 28. Maybe she's right on the money and we've got another year and a half or so to have as much childless fun as possible!
It doesn't matter to me when they arrive, or even how they arrive, so long as they arrive healthy, happy and whole. Even if that means surrogacy or adoption, my children will know how much they are cherished and loved.
Maigen is simple. is smart. is wholesome. is skeevy. is spicy. is delicate. is better. is purer. is 100% more awesome than yesterday. She';s traveling the world and writing about her experiences with life, love, yoga, food, travel and people. Mostly people. Because they';re funny. hear more of her random thoughts @maigen on twitter.
ABOUT MAIGEN THOMAS
more about maigen thomas
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
11.28.07 @ 4:38p
As you said, you are young and you are healthy. Relax. Enjoy life (and sex). Mother Nature sometimes takes her time about these things (and does not when we wish she would!)
I wish you well and hope you get your wish in the very near future.
11.29.07 @ 2:08a
You can't get pregnant on the face, mom.
Pure rock there.
But listen, don't ever pay attention to psychics. EVER. They only tell you what THEY have deduced is ominous enough to make you come back again. And the more you pay, the more ominous it ends up being. (Trust me, I once knew one very well, once-upon-a-time.)
So fuck all those charlatans. What is true is that the more stressed out you are, the longer it will drag on. The better, more carefree sex you have with your man, the sooner he will knock you up. And then you'll just be sorry when your EPT finally comes up positive, because that will fortell the beginning of the end of a beautifully, recklessly orgasmic time in your life, and will forfend any further selfish pleasure you may still wish to partake in.
11.29.07 @ 4:41a
HA! I wondered how that line would read. But still, it's funny. Yes, tmi. But seriously - seriously when I have I NOT been queen of the tmi? So, yeah. I've said it to her. And then laughed hysterically to the shocked silence!
11.29.07 @ 4:42a
Oh, and the psychic was research for the screenplay. Also, was terribly fun giving up NOTHING in the conversation. I do a mean poker face... She started rambling off toward minute 40 and I was ready to wrap it up.
11.29.07 @ 10:51a
Love that line. Here's a visual that suggests otherwise:
11.29.07 @ 12:43p
I don't know what I was expecting when I clicked that link, but I know it wasn't what was there.
That is indeed awesome.
11.29.07 @ 7:07p
LOVE IT! This is my favourite comic about pregnancy, found when we were adamantly trying not to get in such a condition.