She’s Having My Baby
“With friends like yours, who needs a partner?” — My doctor
For as long as I can remember, I have held two conflicting convictions deep in the core of my being.
One, that I desperately wanted to be a mom someday.
And two, that I never, ever, ever wanted to be pregnant.
Despite my being single and a little behind schedule, conviction number one has actually gone remarkably smoothly overall. I froze my eggs in 2018 and again in 2019; I decided in 2022 to proceed without a partner. I asked a dear friend if he’d consider donating sperm; he surprised me by readily saying yes. He won’t have any rights or responsibilities toward the child, but he will be a special person in our lives. It’s honestly a pretty perfect situation.
Conviction number two was, naturally, a bit trickier.
When I was young, my aversion to pregnancy primarily manifested as a fear of giving birth. Most kids are horrified by childbirth, and most childhood fears are outgrown, but mine got worse instead of better. As an adult, the horror stories of nearly everyone I know who has delivered a baby — ranging from epidurals that stopped working, to hemorrhaging, to very nearly dying of an amniotic fluid embolism — have resulted in my garden-variety nerves crescendoing into a veritable phobia.
I still wanted a child badly enough to consider it. But boy, was I not looking forward to the whole thing. And in addition to fearing the birth itself, I have gradually come to the conclusion that some people’s bodies are made for pregnancy, and some are not.
Mine is not.
I have scoliosis that wasn’t quite severe enough to brace as an adolescent, but now causes me discomfort more days than not. I have the posture of an 80-year-old. My ribs (and presumably internal organs) are nowhere near where they’re supposed to be. My downward dog is more of a diagonal dog. I can throw my back out not just by running or lifting something heavy, but also by sneezing too hard or sitting too much or even, occasionally, in my sleep.
When that happens I am out of commission for days, and feeling residual effects for even longer. And that’s without carrying around an extra 30 or so pounds right in the spot where my spine is the weakest.
In addition to my structural woes, I have taken Cymbalta for over a decade. It’s no hyperbole to say it’s changed — possibly even saved — my life. It takes my daily anxiety from an 11 to a 3 or 4. It’s the only thing that’s ever worked after a lifetime of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (with a little depression and OCD sprinkled in for good measure). It has been a godsend in every way.
It’s not, however, recommended during pregnancy.
Going off it doesn’t feel like an option, for my sake or the baby’s (turns out sky-high cortisol levels aren’t healthy for a growing fetus, go figure). Switching to Zoloft or another pregnancy-safer antidepressant is also not an option, because believe me, I’ve tried them all. Staying on it while pregnant is an option, but not one without risks.
None of these obstacles on their own would necessarily be enough to dissuade me from pregnancy. Taken all together, they felt somewhat insurmountable. But again, I wanted this so badly I was prepared to try.
Alexis is a close friend from college and one of the only people I know who had easy, uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries with both her children. We were texting one day about one friend or another’s latest childbirth trauma, and I casually mentioned, “You know, I’ve sometimes fantasized about having a surrogate.”
“That’s funny,” she said, “I’ve actually considered being a surrogate.”
She loved her pregnancies. It is her literal dream job, she told me, to get paid to be pregnant. I can’t wrap my head around it, but here we are. Like I said, some people’s bodies are made for it, and some are not.
And so what started as a bit of a joke quickly turned into something we began seriously researching. And ultimately, it was perfect. Everything about this arrangement has felt like fate.
Mind you, surrogacy is no small expense. In most situations, it costs in the low six figures. I have a number of things going for me in working with Alexis: There’s no need to engage an agency; her health insurance covers surrogate pregnancies (which is relatively unusual); she’s a stay-at-home mom who therefore won’t need reimbursement for lost wages; and my job will even reimburse a modest amount. Even so, I’ve spent over $80k so far, not even counting the two rounds of egg freezing.
It’s a massive privilege to have this option. And every penny feels worth it.
I will admit that I started this journey feeling pretty insecure about effectively outsourcing my pregnancy, but at this stage I could not be more thrilled with the decision. I feel certain that I gave my baby and myself the best possible chance at a healthy life together.
I am incredibly happy to answer any and all good-faith questions you may have about the process! Here are a few examples of questions that I do not consider good-faith, and will not be entertaining (not that I think any of you would ask these. But there are people who would, so just getting out ahead of it):
- “Why don’t you ‘just adopt’?”
I could write an entire post about why this is a bullshit question. So could an awful lot of people I know who have tried.
- “How can you not want to experience pregnancy?” “Aren’t you afraid you won’t bond with your baby?” “Are you just doing this so you don’t get fat / have to stop drinking?” “wHaT aBoUt BrEaStFeEdInG?”
- “A child needs a mother and a father.”
That wasn’t a question. Also, get out.
- “Isn’t this basically The Handmaid’s Tale?”
I could write an entire post or three about this one as well. But briefly: Allow me to introduce you to the concept of consent. And the other industries in which we have no problem with people “selling their bodies,” such as construction and mining and professional football.
- “How will you be prepared for the sacrifices of parenthood if you don’t go through the pain of childbirth?”
Yes, this was an actual question I saw on a Reddit AMA, to which one commenter astutely responded, “Your mind is going to be absolutely blown when you hear about this thing called dads.”
Cool, glad we got that out of the way.
Anyway, Alexis is currently 13 weeks pregnant with my baby girl, and let me tell you, she is crushing it. I could not imagine my daughter in better hands, very much including my own. And after the birth, Alexis will be able to go home and recover without waking up every hour or two to take care of a newborn, and I’ll be able to go into that “fourth trimester” without also having to heal from bodily trauma. Explain to me again why those responsibilities normally fall to the same person? (Just kidding, it’s the patriarchy. It’s always the patriarchy.)
My child won’t have a dad in the traditional sense. She’ll have a mom who didn’t birth her. She likely won’t have siblings, or cousins for that matter. But she’ll grow up surrounded by the love of a village that takes my breath away. I couldn’t wish for more.