Obedience

I think the word “obedience” often has a negative connotation.  We might hear that word and think of times when we were punished for breaking the rules in school, or we may hear it and associate the word with a lack of fun.  We might think of the straight and narrow, or the stern tone of the deliverer of our consequences when we weren’t obedient in the past.  I want to challenge you to think of obedience differently.  Obedience changed my life and set me on a completely unanticipated path to a very visual and life giving blessing that I would have missed out on entirely had it not been for obedience.

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If you are a parent, think of it this way…  Have you ever given your child a direction because you knew that if they followed that direction, it would set them up for something good?  I often think of teaching my kids to not fear the water.  There have been many times when I’ve stood there in the water with my arms out and told my kids, “Jump!”  I knew they’d be safe.  I knew I’d catch them.  I knew they’d love the feeling of the water all around them and the celebration of all of us waiting for them to trust me and leap.  If I switch the perspective to my child, they’re often scared.  Even though mom or dad has never missed and has never encouraged them to do something that would harm them, they still fear the unknown.  The water looks deep.  What if it’s cold?  What if Mom doesn’t catch me?  What if it makes me uncomfortable?  All the while, I know they’ll not only be ok, they’ll be glad they did it.  I just need them to trust me and know that I’ll be in the water with them.  Listen to my call and obey.  Jump!

When I first felt like God was calling me to offer my womb as a surrogate, there were a lot of unknowns.  But because I had a relationship with God, I knew He’d be in the water with me, arms wide open, ready to catch me.  I jumped.  Sometimes, the water felt cold.  My Father was always there in the water with me, holding me, and assuring me that I could trust Him to keep me afloat.  He called me to jump, and the experience wasn’t only a lesson for me that I could trust Him and that He is faithful, but that I’d be glad and excited that I got to jump.  I can handle the cold temps and I can handle the uncertainty because He’s in the water with me, holding me and assuring me it’s ok.  He’s excited that I jumped in and so many are standing around the water, celebrating with me.

I don’t think God is calling all of us to jump into the waters of surrogacy, but I do think He’s calling us all to jump into the water with Him and to obey whatever it is He’s calling you to do.  What’s He calling you to do?  Will you jump?

 

2 John 1:6 says, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.  As you have heard from he beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

Mommy is a Surrogate

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If you have a family of your own and you’ve ever contemplated becoming a surrogate, then you’ve probably wondered how you might address this topic with your children.  For me, it was much simpler than what I had expected and I’d love to share some quick pointers or insights on what that was like for us and our kids.  Before I go any further, keep in mind that at the time I was embarking on this journey, my youngest was not quite 2, my middle child was 4, and my oldest was not quite 6.  The way you approach this with your children might look and sound different depending on their ages and your circumstances.  For us, I was carrying for my sister in law who had battled cancer and couldn’t carry her own.  My children saw her go through that battle and they were excited that their mommy was helping her have a family and that they would get a baby cousin.

  1. They accepted the news better than anyone else we told.  Many adults have preconceived notions of how things are “supposed” to work or what they would consider to be “normal.”  To many of us, we define “normal” as how we were brought up or raised.  Children are so moldable and they look to us for a model of how to live.  When we told our kids about this, we simply told them that Aunt Amanda’s belly was broken.  Aunt Amanda and Uncle Reid wanted a baby, but Aunt Amanda couldn’t carry the baby in her broken belly.  Sometimes, when a mommy’s belly is broken, a doctor will take a cell from the mommy and a cell from the daddy to create something called an embryo, which is the beginning of life for a baby.  Since Aunt Amanda’s belly was broken, the doctor was going to put the embryo in Mommy’s belly so Mommy could carry the baby safely for Aunt Amanda and Uncle Reid.  When the baby is done growing, the doctor will take out the baby and give him or her to the mommy and daddy.  My oldest two definitely understood.
  2. If you are uneasy, talk to a psychiatrist or a psychologist.  This was part of the process for us that we couldn’t avoid even if we wanted.  The fertility clinic we went through required all of us to talk to a psychiatrist and a psychologist.  During those sessions, we asked about how we should share this information with our kids.  They were very helpful and reassured us that the kids would likely take it much better than the adults.  They told us that the only reason kids sometimes have issues with surrogacy is because they may fear that you will meet someone else who wants a baby and decide you will give that person one of your children.  She said that thought could be easily prevented as long as we front load our conversation by explaining that they belong to me and my husband and that we will never ever ever give them away.  The baby in my belly was not mine to keep and was made with the cells of two different people, so the baby belongs to them.  My daughters never questioned this at all, but we did make sure we explained this to them ahead of time.
  3. Use children’s books.  We purchased two different books and we used both to help explain what surrogacy is, the process, and the “why” to our kids.  Our kids still pull the books out for us to read them with them from time to time.  When we first told them about surrogacy, we read the Kangaroo one with them and had Aunt Amanda there with us as we all read it together.  (I will link the books we used at the bottom of this post.)  Please excuse my middle child not wanting to share the book in the video below.  She was a full on threenager at this time…  Ha ha!
  4. Turn this into a very visible lesson on serving those we love.  Unfortunately, my sister in law was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a very young age.  Due to this, she couldn’t carry her baby.  I volunteered to carry for her, and my husband and I explained to our children how this was an opportunity for us to help people we love and care about be able to have a family as well as an opportunity to give a person a chance at life with incredible and loving parents.  We talked about how sometimes, serving others requires sacrifice and an understanding that there are things far more important than our comforts.  We talked about trusting God to bless us through this process and take care of us.  As they continue to grow, I’m going to talk with them a lot more about obedience.  I felt called to do this, but with a calling often comes what feels like a risk.  But truly, I felt like there was more of a risk for me if I wasn’t obedient.  What if I didn’t do this and they never got to have a family and Adalyn never got to have a life?  What if I didn’t do this and I felt like I could have helped and chose not to help?  Living with that seemed harder than the risks associated with following through and embarking on this process.  FullSizeRender 2
  5. Be honest about the process.  We never said the baby got in my belly through magic, or that everything would be easy.  We told them about the sickness I would feel.  We told them I would be on medicines that would sometimes make me feel a little out of control of my emotions.  We told them Daddy would be giving Mommy shots and we let them watch a few times.  They also watched my husband rub my hips after my shots and they tried helping out with that a few times too.  When they asked me if it hurt, I told them it did, but that it was worth it for their little cousin and for their aunt and uncle.  I told them I’d do the same thing for them if I’d had to and that when you really love someone, sometimes you choose to take the boo boos for them.

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    The rectangles on my belly were Estrogen patches.  The heating pad was providing some relief from the many knots and bruises I had from Progesterone injections. This was also around the time I was giving myself shots of Lupron in my stomach.
  6. Include them in the conversations, the pregnancy, and meeting the new baby.  My oldest went to a couple of doctor’s appointments with me, which led to some deeper conversations with her during the car rides home.  It was a great opportunity for us to talk and for us to learn from each other. As my belly grew by the day, they would wrap their little arms around my belly and hug me.  They talked to the baby, they felt her move, they gave my belly kisses.  We all loved her from day one and we all had the mindset that while the baby in my belly wasn’t ours, she was still ours to love and our responsibility to make sure she was taken care of.  IMG_1786  IMG_2002All 3 enjoyed celebrating the whole time with us – from finding out the pregnancy took, to seeing the pictures from the first ultrasound, to finding out the baby was a girl.
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    The girls loved finding out their little cousin was a girl!

    My parents brought the kids to the hospital the day after Adalyn was born. The kids brought little presents for Adalyn and enjoyed getting to hold her in their sweet little arms.  They love visiting with Adalyn and we look at her pictures and videos all the time.  We are especially thankful for FaceTime since Aunt Amanda and Uncle Reid live a few hours away.

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    Adalyn with her mommy and her big cousins.

To hear a little more about their response to the surrogacy, watch the YouTube video below.  My husband and I did another video about his response to the surrogacy, (click here for that video) where we had some comments from people asking about how our kids responded to the surrogacy.  I asked my daughters if they wanted to do a video, and they jumped off of the couch excited to get started!  So, this video is definitely not the best quality, but it will give you the skinny.  Feel free to share and ask us any other questions you can think of.

Children’s Books:

Sophia’s Broken Crayons by Crystal Falk

The Kangaroo Pouch by Sarah Phillips Pellet

My Husband’s Response to Surrogacy

When I met Micah, I was 15 years old.  We met at a Fazoli’s in Ashland, KY in our American Eagle gear with breadsticks in hand.  I doubt he looked at me back then and thought, “This is going to be the mother of my children,” let alone, “This chick is going to look great carrying my sister’s baby in her womb one day.”  But here we are, 17 years later with a ton of memories, a used mini van, 3 kids of our own, and a story to tell.

I’ve received tons of questions from people who are curious about surrogacy.  I’ve talked on the phone with curious women who were contemplating surrogacy, but unsure of how their spouse might respond.  Micah and I decided to do this video for anyone who might be curious about how this impacted our marriage and how we supported each other along the way.

Feel free to check this out and share it, pin it, and ask us more questions.

3 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Surrogate

I recently had the opportunity to be a surrogate mother for my sweet little niece, Adalyn.  Soon, I will write a lot more about that whole journey, but for now, I wanted to share a few things about surrogacy that I wish I had known ahead of time for those of you who are curious or possibly interested in beginning that journey as well.

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  1. It’s not a quick process.  Signing up for surrogacy is not like signing up for an exercise class at the Y.  It’s definitely a long process which includes a long list of requirements before you are even approved to become a surrogate.  I had to do a physical assessment of my female anatomy (including a bit of an uncomfortable procedure called “Saline Infusion Sonography”), a complete medical history review which required me to have my current doctor’s office to fax over a large stack of medical information, lots of blood work, a personality assessment (around 500 questions), visits with a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and working with an attorney to write up and sign a very long surrogacy agreement (which had to be notarized.)  Not only did I have to go through many of these steps as the surrogate, but so did my husband and the intended parents.  We all had to talk to the psychiatrist, sign legal documents, and have blood work.  My husband and I both had to take antibiotics prior to the procedure and we both had to be trained on how to give intramuscular injections.  All of this had to take place along with waiting on the embryos to be fertilized and ready for the procedure.  Often times, there are many setbacks.  For example, if the egg is a fresh egg (not frozen), the baby’s mother (or egg donor, depending on circumstances) has to go through the egg retrieval process, then the egg has to be fertilized and implanted.  If the egg is frozen, it has to make it through the thawing process before it can be fertilized and depending on whether or not a viable embryo is created, this process could have to be repeated.  Long story short, I began the process in August, thought I was going to go through the transfer in October, but didn’t get to transfer day until January.  Although the wait was frustrating at times, in the end, I believe the timing was perfect and everything happened exactly as it should have.
  2. IVF is not easy, but it is humbling.  I gained an entirely newfound admiration and appreciation for women who go through IVF.  Ladies, it is HARD.  I took hormones that gave me crazy moods and my emotions were on a pendulum swing.  I gained weight due to all of the bloating and I had lots of nausea, cramps, and headaches.  I will never forget the first time I had to give myself a shot in the stomach.  It was the day I took my 4 year old to the hospital to have her tonsils and adenoids removed.  That morning, I grabbed the skin on my stomach and injected a syringe of Lupron into my belly.  Shew!  I could do this!  I did this every day for weeks while also taking oral hormones and rotating 2-4 patches of Estrogen on my belly.  Shortly after, I also began doing the dreaded progesterone in oil injections.  They go an inch into your muscle, but the worst part is the heaviness of the medicine going in.  I would have bumps the size of golf balls on my hips and bruises as big as my palm.  My husband gave me these shots until I was 12 weeks pregnant. Two times, we hit a blood vessel and would have to start all over.  One of those times, I fainted.  Here’s the thing…  do not feel sorry for me.  This taught me a huge lesson and gave me a huge respect and appreciation for women who desire so deeply to be moms.  There are women who go through this process 6 times before ever having a child to call their own.  Some never succeed at all.  Pray for these women.  I can remember being at the IVF clinic and getting my blood drawn.  There was a lady next to me getting hers drawn too.  I could hear her sobbing the whole time.  Was this her 4th time with no luck?  Was she just scared of the needle in her arm again?  Were they determining if she had miscarried?  I didn’t know, but I did know that so many women who sit in that chair have heavy grief and that I’m lucky I get to do this for a woman who gets to be a mom now.  My discomfort was temporary.  The woman I carried for endured cancer, intense cancer treatments and surgeries, and infertility.  Now, she gets to be a mom.  The shots don’t seem like such a big deal when you put it all into perspective.
  3. Not everyone will be supportive, but so many others will be.  My sister in law had colon cancer.  She can’t carry her own child.  I offered to do this for her and her husband without any expectation of compensation.  I did a good thing.  I’m proud of that good thing and each and every time I get to see my little niece with her parents, knowing I held her in my womb so they could one day hold her in their arms is absolutely worth it.  I care what people think.  I want to inspire people and I want people to see what I did and believe they can bless others radically too.  I cannot let others opinions and worries keep me from carrying out a calling.  There were whispers, comments on social media, and so many opinions shared.  Ultimately, what mattered most to me was being obedient to a calling I had on my heart.  I had to choose not to let the nay-sayers hurt me.  I wrote a prayer on my phone and every time I felt attacked or upset, I would open up that prayer and immediately feel at peace and confident in my decision to carry Adalyn. There were also tons of people – people I saw daily, people I didn’t know at all, who brought us so much encouragement.  These people touched me in a way that I can’t describe.  I didn’t really grasp until now that impact is measurable.  I felt so much love and peace during this journey, and a huge part of that was knowing that my calling was making an impact on lots of people.

 

So, there you have it!  Being a surrogate was a huge journey for sure and one that I never dreamed would become a reality for me, but I’m so thankful it did.  Even with all of the obstacles, I would do it all over again for them.  I’ll never forget watching my sister in law become a mom for the first time as she got to experience a love she once thought was impossible. 

 

What other questions do you have for me about surrogacy?  I’d love to answer them!  Leave a comment below!