Having a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.
Yesterday, the wonderful Koa Beck talked about Giuliana and Bill Rancic revealing the identity of the surrogate who carried their son Edward Duke. Having their surrogate, Delphine, appear on their reality show is a brave step and one that I was thrilled to see from such a public figure. As Koa explained,
“…by presenting her to the public — appearing like any other pregnant woman touring a birthing facility — the Rancics are publicly tampering with a long-held convention of parenthood: the image of the heterosexual couple holding hands, the wife swelling with that coveted mommy glow.”
Honestly, my applause goes to this strong and confident couple for publicly dealing with a very personal and difficult situation.
Seeing all the news about Bill and Giuliana made me think about my own struggles with infertility. And considering that we’ve been going on over two years of attempting to have a child with just a single pregnancy that ended tragically, the idea of using a surrogate is a very real possibility for me to consider. The idea of another woman carrying my baby is a concept that I can picture for my future. That picture is exciting, but it also brings a very real fear along with it.
Before I get into that fear, I want to explain that I’m not bringing this up to discourage or further stigmatize surrogacy. I think the process is amazing, deserves more attention and a lot of support. The reason I want to discuss my hesitations about surrogacy is because I think it’s so wonderful, it should be examined thoughtfully. I don’t want to ignore the fear I have, I want to work through it. And I want to acknowledge this fear, because I think it’s one that some other people might have to.
The reason that Bill and Giuliana’s story makes my heart rate quicken is because there’s an insane amount of trust that has to go into using a surrogate. Putting the baby that you want so desperately into someone else’s care for ten months has to be the biggest leap of faith a couple could ever take. It’s not just the awful Lifetime Movie horror stories, though they certainly haven’t helped anything. Think about all the ways that we attempt to control pregnancy nowadays, all the rules and things you aren’t supposed to eat. Those regulations are hard enough when you’re carrying your own child. Think about asking someone else to abide by them?
It is pretty deeply ingrained in us that having a baby is a journey of two people, a mom and a dad. Throwing a third person into that mix is shaky and unfamiliar territory. It adds a whole new layer of stress to a situation that already comes with its own tremendous pressure. The thing that you have to remember is that the end result is well worth the added stress. And more than that, you could build a really great relationship with a woman who is amazing enough to help couples build a family.
Surrogacy is a little scary. I don’t think we need to deny that to also be supportive of the practice. It involves quickly building very high levels of trust, sometimes between people who don’t really know each other that well. When I think about finding my own surrogate, I get a little lump in my throat and a little sweat in my palms. It feels like taking your heart out and placing it in someone else’s abdomen for the better part of a year, just believing that they’ll look after it.
We can’t get rid of that fear. We need to embrace it. And we need to accept that maybe the scariness of it all makes surrogacy even more wonderful, makes the birth even more of a miracle. Bill and Giuliana did a huge service to surrogacy by opening up about their process. We can honor them by continuing the conversation honestly and thoughtfully.