Surrogacy Series (Part Five): Hellooo Third Trimester & Answers to FAQ’s

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It’s been a few months since my last update! When I last checked in, I was nearing the end of the first trimester and looking forward to being done with the IVF medications. There is still a spot on my right hip where the skin is completely numb from 12 weeks of nightly injections and I’m not sure if that’s going to be a permanent situation or not. Other than that, I can’t complain.

The second trimester has been uneventful, filled with routine OB appointments and many chocolate Long John donuts from Kwik Trip, my pregnancy craving. By the way, I did pass my glucose screening so I don’t plan to slow down on the donuts anytime soon.

I started showing sooner since it’s my second pregnancy, which means I’ve been fielding the questions that all pregnant women get, “When are you due?” and “Do you know if it’s a girl or boy?” but with the added complexity of deciding if I should simply answer the question or explain my “situation”. It really just depends on who is asking and whether or not they need the context. 

Speaking of questions, as I head into the third trimester I thought it would be a good time to sit down and answer the ones I get on a regular basis. I set out on this journey with the intention of being as open as possible, so for those who are curious, let’s dig in… 

Q: Will the parents be at the birth?

A: Of course! It’s their baby being born! We have discussed that the intended mother will for sure be in the delivery room. She can even catch her baby as he comes out if she wants to! I have also said that I am completely fine with the intended father being present at the birth as well. However, he’s not sure if he is comfortable with that (totally get it) so we’ve decided to let it be a game day decision.

Since the intended parents live in China, they will come to Mankato a week or two before the due date to be on “baby watch” since calling them when I go into labor would obviously not get them here in time. I will be delivering at the hospital here in town with my regular OB. 

A selfie from the IP’s! Their identities will be kept private 🙂

Q: But wait, they live in China?! Have you seen the news lately?!

Yeah…about that coronavirus. The couple I am carrying for was the first match I received from the agency, right around this time last year. I remember being a bit surprised when I saw they live in China. It just wasn’t what I expected. Then I had a Skype call with them and they were so very sweet, I thought “why not?” It seemed like a wonderful way to make this big old world feel a little bit smaller!

No one could have predicted that a year later, China would be at the center of a global health emergency with restricted travel between our two countries. Still, I have no regrets!

Fortunately, I am one of those people who just believes that things will work out. I’m simply focusing on my job, which is to keep cooking this baby. Even though I’m the pregnant one, I know that the intended parents are even more invested in this than I am. So I know that they will do everything in their power and that there’s no point in me stressing about it!

If the coronavirus and related travel restrictions are still an issue come May, the agency has assured me that they will send someone to care for the baby and to act legally on behalf of the intended parents until they can get here. So no, I will not be taking the baby home no matter what happens. But again, I remain positive that it will all work out and that his parents will be here for his birth!

Q: How does this pregnancy compare to your first one?

Hey, it’s a fair question considering this baby’s genetics are 100% different and the pregnancy was achieved through IVF. But, I can say that both have been pretty much identical so far, in that they’ve been happily boring and uncomplicated. I’m definitely experiencing more fatigue this time around but that makes sense since I have a toddler now! I’m still teaching group fitness classes several times a week, just as I did with my son. Overall, my body seems to be responding to pregnancy just as it did before – it likes it! Phew!

Q: What’s your plan for your breast milk after the baby comes?

I’m sure it’s already assumed but I will not be breastfeeding this baby as we are not looking to create that type of bond. However, I have agreed to pump breast milk for him until they go back to China. I just know how beneficial breast milk is for babies and if I can give him an extra boost during those early weeks of life then I want to do that.

In case you’re wondering, the paperwork has already been filed to establish the intended parents as the legal guardians of the baby. From the moment he is born, they will have temporary authority and control over the baby. They will get their own room at the hospital with the baby, etc. They will then need to file a petition with the court here in Blue Earth County within 60 days and we will all go to court to establish parentage of the child. After that is done, they will be able to take their baby home! At that point, I will either continue pumping and donate the milk to local babies in need or I’ll wean off of pumping. I’m just going to wait and see how it goes. 

Q: Will you take a maternity leave?

No. Assuming that everything goes well with the birth, I plan to take about two weeks off using PTO and sick time, which I fortunately have plenty of. My memories of postpartum recovery are still fresh so I know what’s involved with the healing and that it won’t be fun. But this time I’ll get to sleep as much as I want without a newborn to take care of! I have a great support system with my husband and both sets of our parents in town so I don’t anticipate toddler care getting in the way of my rest and recovery! Netflix, here I come!!

Of course, when I do return to work I will stick to my administrative/managerial duties and take a longer break from the group fitness classes that I teach.    

Q: Does your son know what’s going on?

My son is two-and-a-half and he’s completely clueless. He doesn’t seem to notice my growing belly because toddlers are totally selfish in that way and that’s just perfect. We do not talk about a baby in my belly or anything like that. Because of his age, my plan has always been to leave him out of it as he’s young enough to be oblivious and have no memory of it. 

We told him to hold Mr Potato Head up to my belly. He didn’t ask why, he just did it. LOL

Q: Do you worry that you’ll become emotionally attached to the baby post-birth?

Honestly, not at all. Maybe that makes me sound cold hearted, but I just know it won’t be an issue for me. This baby has never been mine, in my heart or my mind, and I have no desire for it to be.

I explain it to people this way: The intended parents don’t want me to “keep” the baby any more than I want them to not “take” the baby. There is a lot of trust involved on both ends. Also, there’s a reason you have to go through a psychological screening before being approved to be a surrogate!

Even though the baby isn’t here yet, the pregnancy already feels much different than my first. Physically, it is the same but I feel very detached from it emotionally. I am keeping busy with my own life and do not find myself preoccupied with thoughts about the baby. Sometimes I completely forget about it because it’s just not where my focus is. People will ask me how I’m feeling and I’m like, “What do you mean?” then I realize they’re asking because I’m pregnant. Ha. 

Finally, while it’s not the reason I chose to carry for a Chinese couple, the fact that the baby will be a different nationality and look nothing like me will only serve to make things that much more clear on the day of his birth! He belongs with his parents, not with me! And I can’t wait to see them holding their baby!

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Stephanie is a fitness professional on a mission to undo the damage done by much of her industry when it comes to body image, confidence and self-worth. She enjoys sharing her journey as she sheds the “fit chick” label and embraces authentic living from the inside out! A Mankato native, Stephanie is currently the Director of Healthy Living at the Mankato Family YMCA. She lives with her husband, Nick, and their 18-month old son, Beau. He is the light of their life! She enjoys finally sleeping through the night again, teaching and taking group fitness classes, and sharing her love for Restorative Yoga with all the other tired moms!