“There is a saying in Tibetan;
‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.”
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”
– 14th Dalai Lama
It’s always hard to find a place to start, because life stories don’t have a starting line. I could start in March of 2017, when Brooke asked if I would carry their second child and we started the surrogacy process all over again. I could start at that first transfer that ended in a very early miscarriage, a wound I carried with me for a very long time. I could start with the second round of IVF a year later, that ended in heartbreak when the last embryo didn’t survive the thaw.
I will start in October when we transferred again, mostly in secret because we were scared of what the outcome would be. I was riddled with so much anxiety. I was in a weird place with my career, trying to figure out what my personal future looked like. I was anxious about the pregnancy and if it would take or if all the work to this point would end in heartbreak again. They aren’t my children, but I love my surrogate family and it crushes me when things don’t go as planned. And I had this idea in my head of being the “uterus of steel” here to save the day! It’s a horrible way of thinking and not fair to anyone including myself.
But transfer happened and was successful. Meds happened and I didn’t have any adverse reactions. I kept it secret for longer than I’ve ever kept a secret before in my life! I left my job in the beginning of December for so many reasons, number one being fear. I would give this family a baby, he would be healthy, and he would be perfect. Period. I very quickly got depressed.
It was such a strange feeling. I’ve never been depressed while I was pregnant before, it was always such a happy time! I tried to power through. The night of the Superbowl I started bleeding. I was in shock as I was 14 weeks and this is not something I had EVER experienced this late in pregnancy before. I called my midwife and set up a sonogram for the next day. I decided not to tell Brooke until I had answers, there was nothing she could do from New York but worry. The next day I went in and baby was perfect. Strong heart, jumping around, no sign of what could be happening. I was instructed to rest and relax. No real answers. I feel like this was a HUGE trigger. The depression and anxiety over being able to carry baby to term set in and I started questioning my worth every. single. day.
I cut out all my friends. I stopped doing anything I enjoyed. I honestly don’t really know what I did during this time, it’s kind of a blur. I obsessed over a healthy baby. I eventually went to a meeting for people in the area to learn about a new counseling service. As a doula I was looking forward to learning about it and being able to pass it on to clients in the future. I walked away knowing that I needed help myself.
My surrogacy contract has money allotted to counseling for myself or my husband if need be. I never used this with June bug, but knew I needed it now. Calling Brooke to tell her I felt like I needed help was one of the hardest, most vulnerable things I’ve ever had to do. And she met me with so much grace and understanding. “Yes, do it, everyone should go to therapy.” I am so incredibly thankful for her every day.
So I started therapy.
I think I had eight sessions. I learned to understand myself and why I was so depressed. I learned my worth. I learned to forgive. I learned how to be a better me. I learned how to be a better mother, and a better wife. Therapy is thee best thing I ever did for myself. If I could give the entire world a gift, it would be therapy.
I decided it was in my best interest to go back to work. I applied here and there, knowing it was a long shot that someone would hire me at seven months pregnant. But I got a call back from one of the best restaurants in Fort Worth. Then they called me for a second interview and asked me when I could start. It was a dream come true. A kitchen full of educated women, willing to teach. It was magic. I woke up early, I stayed late, I talked about it non-stop. And then the reality set in that my body, having been stagnant for far too much of the pregnancy, was not going to allow me to do this. I was crushed. At 32 weeks baby was fully engaged in my pelvis, was measuring a week ahead and putting a lot of pressure on my hips and lower back. I reluctantly left my job, again.
But I had tools now, and I knew I could navigate these feelings (yay therapy!). During this time some good friends of mine had called and needed a place to stay. I have never and will never, no matter what I’m going through in my own life, not help a friend in need. So we became a family of seven over night. Curtis and I in one room, my two friends in one room, and all three of my children in the last room. It was a new kind of chaos. But we navigated, we recalculated, we prospered. I had help (as Curtis also went back to work during this time), and I had company. The spring was turning out to be a beautiful season on change. I kept some anxiety as my belly grew over when Baby Bird (a nickname I got from his sister) would make his grand entrance.
The roommates left, as they had their own journey of healing to walk through, and I found myself alone again. My children are so much older now and even though it’s summer vacation, they don’t need me in the ways that they used to. So I found joy, companionship and nurturing elsewhere. Gardening. It’s so strange to think how much caring for these plants and watching them grow has brought me so much joy. But they did, and continue to. Bringing life, it’s kinda my thing now.
I counted down the days for Brooke and June bug to arrive in Fort Worth, and busied myself making birth plans. Affirmation flags morphed into flags of female ancestors who inspire me. My “birth plan” was really just a list a of people who would be present at the birth center. I met with my doulas and my midwives. I went to the chiropractor every week. I got a prenatal massage/spiritual work done twice a month. I advocated for what I wanted and what I was comfortable with. I ate with a hunger I’ve never felt before. I tended my garden.
Finally on July 7th, Brooke and June bug arrived in Fort Worth, and I sighed the first big, real sigh of relief I had in a year. It was almost time to have a baby.
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