We have hit the 20 week mark and there’s so much to talk about!
Last weekend we flew up to Brisbane for Rachel and Bear’s 20 week ultrasound. It had been 2 months between visits, so it was extra awesome to give her 2 months worth of hugs! All was right in the world once more, and we are pleased to report that Bear looks totally normal. All its bits are in the right place and within range of normal measurements (but the poor thing has my big head!). The ultrasound technician asked if we wanted to know the sex, to which we all replied a resounding “no!”. I get more and more excited about it being a surprise the further along we get, so know that we made the right decision.
Prior to the scan, we hung out at the Southbank beach and ate gyoza (yummm!). I was so content, I could have stayed at Southbank with my feet in the water all day! We had to move on though, as I had an appointment with the hospital’s lactation consultant. Hubby, Rach and I piled in to her little office, where we started chatting about all things feeding. Induced lactation is not a usual case for lactation consultants to deal with, so she was very interested in and enthusiastic about supporting me, which is fantastic.
She asked if I wanted a demonstration on how to hand express. I said sure, why not! Rach scuttled out of the office and hubby followed. While Rach and I are great friends, even the greatest of friends don’t need to be mentally scarred with real-life-boob-squeezing demonstrations, especially without the consumption of alcohol prior. What followed was the highlight of the appointment. I made the lactation consultant speechless – I don’t think she expected me to make milk! She sat there with mouth gaping, just saying “oh my god, oh my god, do you know how amazing that is?!”. It’s old news to me, but it’s nice to know that the milk tanks are in good working order.
The following day we’d organised to visit our surrogacy counsellor.
Counselling throughout pregnancy is something that we’d all agreed was important from the start; but as the process got underway and our relationship developed strongly, we questioned whether counselling was still worth it. I eventually decided that I’d still like to do it, because no one ever says “dang, I wish I hadn’t gone to the counsellor”. So off we trotted. I was a little nervous about whether I was dragging everyone along for nothing, but after the session I was convinced it was an excellent thing to do.
This was actually the first counselling session that Rach, hubby and I have had together, as South Australian legislation did not require us to do so prior to forming an agreement (which is a bit weird if you ask me!).
We sat down for an hour of talking about how things are going, and how everyone is feeling. Hubby sat there with his listening face on as he often does, quite content with our chatter filling the air, happily prompted by the counsellor to join in. I watched in admiration as the woman carrying my baby spoke with the same honesty and insight as I first grew to love her for. I still get butterflies in my tummy every time she talks about surrogacy, because it’s such a powerful part of who she is. It was so lovely to have an hour of “right, we’re going to talk about surrogacy now”, because being friends, we are prone to fill our time together these days with pictures of cats, quality shows on foxtel, crochet, or content from questionable subreddits. Affirmation that we are all on the right track surrogacy-wise was valuable.
The hardest counselling question for me to answer was “How will you feel after you leave Brisbane with your baby?”. I could feel my eyes welling up just thinking about it.
After going through a hundred adjectives in my head, I eventually settled on “Sad. I’ll feel sad”. In that moment I could see that this is something that I need to work on. Have I become more focused on surrogacy than I have on parenthood? I need to be OK with leaving. I need to be able to embrace this new chapter of our adventure, by celebrating the milestone of moving on, and be content in knowing that leaving is not the end of our surrogacy relationship. Rachel said that us leaving and becoming a family by ourselves out in the big wide world is the reason why she is doing this – so for her it will be exciting. To hear her say that really put everything in perspective. I need to be OK with saying goodbye. Good thing I’ve still got a little while to work on it 🙂
So an issue that I didn’t even have on my radar as something to work on, was presented with great clarity, and for that I give great thanks to our counsellor for facilitating. And that is one of the many reasons why this counselling session was worth it.
My other reason for writing this blog post is to give thanks for it being one year since Rachel offered to be our surrogate. What people may not realise is that in offering to be a surrogate, one is not just offering to carry one’s child. Rachel was offering to hug me so tight that all the puzzle pieces would come back together. She was offering to keep my body alive, safe and well; to carry my child to safety with love and care, to forsake some of her own freedoms to free my soul, to restore bounciness in my step and happiness to my heart, and through her altruism create a desire within me and those around us to pay it forward.
It’s hard to put in to words how I felt on this day one year ago. I knew in my heart that Rachel was somebody who I could trust with all my being, someone who I respected greatly, someone who I aspired to be like, and someone who I would love to share the joy of motherhood with. To commemorate this day, I would love to pass a tiny piece of Rachel’s goodwill on to another family who are on their path of parenthood. So in Rachel’s honour, I give thanks today by donating to a Western Australian family surprised by 5 (Quintuplets). There has been a fundraising campaign for them to be able to have the freedom of a car with capacity to carry their whole family, as they currently need help to get to medical appointments. So today I pass on a donation in Rachel’s name, so that her generosity may live on to help another family facing challenge of a different kind.
I will leave this blog post now with a happy heart and smiley face, wondering what life will be like in another year’s time. One thing is for sure – I’ll have a new name – “mum” – thanks to a very special someone 🙂