My neighbor comes out and takes her kids to school at the same time I do almost every morning (they go to a different school otherwise we’d totally car pool). We’re not close, but we’re civil: “Hi,” “Good Morning,” “Going to be cold isn’t it?” that kind of thing. She saw how I was pregnant throughout the year but we never really talked about it. She smiled at the bump and asked if it was a girl or a boy? I just said “girl” and smiled back. We’re in that morning rush and I wasn’t going to pull her aside to tell her I’m a surrogate, explain the whole deal to her, and make our kids late to school and most likely freak her out in the process. It just wasn’t convenient.
Well, after I had delivered and was up on my feet again taking the girls to school, she sees me. Clearly not pregnant anymore and… no baby anywhere… no car seat… no nothing. I said “Good morning”, smiled and pulled away. I could tell she was thoroughly confused. Her eyes were processing. Should she be apologetic, sympathetic? Had something terrible happened? But I was happy, not grieving? What had I done with the child! The next few times we saw each other, I could tell she was clearly baffled but she never brought it up and since then she doesn’t really speak to me at all. I can tell I unsettle her but I don’t feel like I need to explain my life to an almost stranger. I’m friendly and open so maybe someday she’ll ask about my surrogacy journey. Especially now that I’m going to do it again 🙂
I’ve had many similar situations with the people I see on a daily basis. The ones you’re not close to but are friendly enough to say hello to. The crossing guard at my daughter’s school, my bank teller, the lady who always seems to get in the elevator at the same time I do, the dad picking up his son in my daughter’s class, every one of these people has made casual remarks about me being pregnant. I’ll vaguely answer “It’s a girl,” “due in September,” or “I don’t know the name yet.” And if I have the time or I feel comfortable enough around them I’ll tell them what’s what and that: “it’s not mine”, or “I’m a surrogate.” I never, ever know how they’ll react. I had the check-out lady at Target come around the register, give me a big hug, a kiss on the cheek, and with tears in her eyes tell me what a wonderful thing I was doing; since her daughter couldn’t conceive and she knew how I was changing someone’s life. That was totally unexpected and made me cry (also I was hormonal from being pregnant at the time). I had a man look at me in disgust and snidely remark to his wife that he could never allow her to “sell a baby”. My husband had to pull me away at that point (again, hormonal and would most likely have ripped him a new one).
There was that one time I was out with my 5 year old and a woman made a comment to her about getting a little brother or sister and my daughter looked up at her and quipped “It’s not even ours.” I’ve never seen a woman walk away so quickly without trying to look like it. Awkward! But I have to admit I laughed after she left.
My kids have been great with my surrogacy journey. They absolutely loved everything about me being a surrogate for another couple. They don’t want any more sibling competition and are happy that Mommy is helping others to become parents too. They get it. I think it clicked more easily for them than it did with my friends. I think a lot of surrogate mothers have found that it can be easier to explain surrogacy to a child than to an adult! I have found that my 8 year old had been telling her teacher and all her school friends about me before I had a chance to myself. Her teacher then bragged to other teachers about what I was doing so that when I went in to tell her, everyone knew already and it was no big deal.
People will always amaze you. For better or worse. I have found it’s usually for the better. And what’s more amazing is that surrogacy is becoming “The New Normal.” People tend to just be curious these days instead of ignorant or closed minded. There is a part of me who wants to get a pamphlet printed out entitled: So the Woman you’re Speaking to is a Surrogate: 10 most FAQ’s. That way I can just be like “here you go… talk to me if you have any surrogacy questions, my number is on the back.” Because that has happened! I’ve had not one but two friends of friends who have heard what I have done, asked for my phone number and have picked my brain about the whole thing. It’s amazing. When I applied to be a surrogate, I didn’t even think about these situations occurring in my life; but I’m sure glad they have. It’s a whole new world out there.