I had my first daughter, Parker, when I was 28. It was easy. I was pregnant within a month of deciding to try and avoided all of the serious complications and most of the minor annoyances of pregnancy. She was delivered after an entirely natural, unassisted labor. I assumed this would be the first of several pregnancies and that I would add to my family immediately.
Life did not work out that way.
I spent years suffering from the agony of uterine fibroids. Finally, in 2008, after fighting back with an arsenal of homeopathic and medical weapons, I decided to have my uterus removed. I wept for the children I would never have and made peace with the idea that one is enough.
Once again, life did not work out that way.
I had my first date with James a few months after the hysterectomy. When we decided to marry in 2010, I struggled with accepting that we would never have our own children. James loved Parker and suggested that if we truly wanted our own biological children there might be a way to make it happen. I never doubted his parental devotion to Parker, but I was dubious about adding to our family given that I could not carry a pregnancy.
Then I learned a dear friend and his husband were expecting their second child via surrogacy. He is a feminist scholar and a politically progressive intellectual. When I discussed my concerns with the ethics of surrogacy, he understood. He repeatedly talked with James and me, introduced us to a thoughtful attorney, and shared the good and bad of his own surrogacy story. I read everything I could find, consulted everyone I could, and prayed a lot. In 2012, James and I began our journey with enormous faith and more than a little trepidation.
Because I had retained my ovaries, we were able to create our own biological embryos. In Vitro Fertilization was a physically taxing and emotionally brutal process. But for many people, it has changed their lives. A new report, out this week, found that more than one of every 100 babies born in the United States now are conceived with advanced fertility help. Our daughter is now among them. Through IVF, we were blessed with a handful of potential Perrys. One of those embryos led to a moment I will never forget—a text message from our gestational carrier with a picture of her positive pregnancy test and a message:
“Good News Mama!”
My pregnancy with my first daughter was blessedly uneventful; this one, however, was indeed an event. It took two families, three states, four doctors, and five attorneys to get this little girl here. And while our gestational carrier has no genetic tie to our little one, she is now our family. She gave our daughter love, safety, and nourishment for nine months. On Valentine’s Day, she gave her life and placed her in our arms. Her immediate and extended families have supported all of us along the way. They crowded the hospital room this weekend and shared in our joy. We are all bonded for life and our daughter has a bevy of grandparents, aunties, and siblings tied to her by blood and love.