During one of my college speech and debate classes a man stood up and bravely shared his story of infertility. He shared that he and his wife failed to conceive a child naturally and then failed to conceive with fertility drugs before moving on to two adoptions which were cancelled at the last minute. They looked into surrogate mothers at one point but simply couldn’t afford the costs involved.
He calmly and matter-of-factly shared that they had now accepted that parenting just wasn’t in the cards for them.
I drove home and really internalized his words. They broke my heart. It didn’t really seem fair that someone so kind, with such good moral values, should be denied the right when so many people in the world are blessed with children they simply do not want.
I met up with a friend from the same class later that week and spoke at about a mile a minute to share with him that I was going to do it for them. I, at 19 years old, was going to be their surrogate. For free. I was still on my parents’ health insurance plan so now was the perfect time to do it.
I shared that I wasn’t very knowledgeable about pregnancy, that I wasn’t sure exactly how I would go about offering this to them—do you just say, ‘I liked your speech and I will be your surrogate?’—and that I should probably figure out the health insurance part before I told my parents… but overall, I was feeling pretty excited about it.
He did very well in speech and debate. He had great speaking-and-listening skills. He maintained eye contact, nodded his head to show that he was listening, and never once interrupted me.
He eventually asked, “Are you finished?”
I smiled and breathlessly replied that I was so he said, “That is the dumbest &$#)$(% thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”
He talked me out of it. One of the main points that drove it all home for me was his asking how I’d like to spend my wedding night showing off stretch marks from a pregnancy that had nothing to do with my husband or me.
Do I think I was emotionally mature enough at 19 to push through an entire pregnancy, while working full time and pursuing a bachelor’s degree, only to end it by giving the baby away at the moment of its birth? No.
I am not emotionally mature enough to handle that now.
I am barely even emotionally mature enough to handle a healthy and complication-free pregnancy.
Even still, I’d be lying if I said I never thought about that decision again.
I sometimes wonder, what kind of a difference would it have made for that couple if I had ignored what my friend said, ignored what my family and friends would surely have said, and done it?
What kind of difference would it have made for me?
Maybe the experience would have scarred me and made me choose not to carry the beautiful, precious little people I can’t imagine living without now.
Maybe it would have been a difficult pregnancy with a sick baby and all of us would have been left very emotionally damaged.
Maybe it would just have been beautiful.
Maybe we would all have cried together in ultrasounds and maybe I would have felt only the tiniest ache in my chest when I handed them their baby and thought about when I would someday get my own turn.
Although I had known my now-husband for years at that point, we reconnected about a month or two after I decided not to be a surrogate.
I wonder sometimes if that’s a big part of why that worked out the way it did.
Ryan is an awesome guy and has such an amazing heart for helping and serving others. I am so in love with the way he says “I think I’m gonna get off on the next exit and go back to see if she needs any help with her car” and the way he rushes over to help a guy struggling to load something heavy into the back of his truck at Home Depot.
Still, I’m not sure 20-year-old Ryan would have gotten it. I’m not sure our relationship would have blossomed and flourished in the same way if we started it out with a pregnancy that wasn’t ours, or even mine.
Three times now he has spent week after week resting his palms on my belly and giving me a happy look of surprise when he finally felt a kick, and later a huge roll or squirm.
20-year-old Ryan might have fallen just as in love with the baby in my belly who was not ours to keep.
A complicated pregnancy might have made 20-year-old Ryan unwilling to ever try again for a baby of our own, leaving us to live a life without these beautiful children.
Maybe that couple, whose names I honestly don’t even remember, went on to find themselves pregnant after all. The Bible is filled with stories of seemingly barren women eventually carrying babies of their own.
Then again, maybe that just really wasn’t part of God’s plan for them. Maybe they never carried a child of their own but went to other countries and touched the lives of other mothers and children everywhere.
It’s probably best that I don’t know how things turned out for them, or how they would have turned out for all of us if I had really done it.