Friday, December 22, 2006
Her Eggs in My Basket
Okay. The big secret. It's not actually that complicated or space-taking, unless the space you're talking about is in my head. Then it seems to take up a lot of space, but so far it's been pretty comfortable and non-invasive. Which, to me, says something... though I'm not quite certain what.

Anyway. The short version is this: my close friend Jenny is not able to support another pregnancy, and she and her husband are interested in pursuing surrogacy as an option to have a third child. She floated the idea to me, I considered it, I talked to Willem, and we ended up deciding, "Sure, we can do that."

So, yeah. A big deal, and deceptively simple. There's lots to think about, but what it boils down to is, the reasons to do it are predominantly emotional in nature (because I can, because it would feel good to help out a friend, because it feels good to do something for someone else, because I enjoy being pregnant but am not ready to have another of my own just yet, and so on) and the reasons not to do it are predominantly logical (risk to my own health, it's out of the normal range of things to do in your spare time, possible confusion and extra worries for Willem and the kids, whether it's possible to gestate a human being and then hand it over to someone else to raise without emotional consequences, and so on). So far, all of the objections have not been strong enough, alarming enough, freakish enough, whatever, to overwhelm the basic rightness of the decision for me.

After I told Jenny we were willing, then she told her husband, who responded - at least from my outsider perspective - with deafening silence, so we sat up here for a few weeks thinking, "Well, okay... if nothing else, that was interesting to think about." Then when Jenny and I met for dinner on Sunday, she told me that Mark has made an appointment for them to meet with a counselor/information specialist/whatever at a fertility clinic, beginning in early January, so apparently this is actually going to happen. Or at least we'll all try real hard.

Wild, huh?

Let's see, the fine print... I've been asked a few times about why they want a surrogate, why they can't have another the old-fashioned way, why they don't want to adopt, why they don't want to stop at two, why, why, why. And I've had various responses, but they all boil down to, "It doesn't matter." It doesn't.

Well, I bet it matters to them, but it doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is, here is something that my friends have asked me to do, and the background isn't mine to share.

Another common objection is, "What about your kids? How will you explain it to them?" I haven't decided upon a script yet, but we'll muddle along just like we have with anything else. I don't see this as a threat to their wellbeing or sense of belonging in the family - the trick is to begin with a mindset that this isn't our baby, it never was, and we're just helping to take care of it for a little while. The world's longest babysitting job, I suppose.

Then there's the, "How could you possibly hand over someone that has lived inside you for so long?" Well, sure, that'll be tricky. Again, it's all about the mindset right from the start, that it's not mine. That child and I will always have a bond, even if the baby doesn't know it, but I'm not handing it over to strangers. I'm working with close friends, whose parenting I trust and whose stability is no more questionable than my own.

And, of course, the question of compensation. What's the going hourly rate for a uterus, anyway? I haven't given this one much thought at all, because, frankly, I'm not that desperate for cash. It's not why I'm doing it. Jenny and Mark will cover whatever expenses come up that my insurance won't cover (and I just found out today that as of March, my work is upgrading to a much better insurance provider, hooray!), and that's where my concerns end.

So, there you have it. The big secret. Since we're still mostly in the abstract, ideas phase of all of this, I'm still very open to "Have you considered...?" and "What about...?" sorts of questions. Once this becomes reality, well, you can still ask the questions but I'll be less open to the discussion. Sort of like how my father-in-law called us up, very upset, when he learned from his aunt that I was pregnant with Emily (not intentional on our part... but the guy had spent the prior weeks in a camp in Maine with no telephone, electricity, or toilet for that matter... you make yourself uncontactable, and then you get mad because we didn't contact you? Okay.) - his statement then was, "Why wasn't I consulted about this? What about the repercussions? What about.... blah blah blah." And my response was, "Well, we weren't exactly thinking about you at the time... and it's a done deal now."

Phew. So glad to have THAT off my chest.

Oh, but one more thing. If you're among the elite crowd who knows me or my family in real life, I've already talked to my parents about this, so that's fine. I have not, however, shared this with my mother-in-law. Chances are she'll find out about it someday, especially if I actually end up pregnant, but until then... I just don't want to know how she'll make it about herself, but you just know she's going to find a way. So, don't casually slide it into conversation with her, okay? Okay.