Trying to Fig It All Out
By: John Jericiau
The results of the three-hour glucose test for gestational diabetes came back within three hours: negative! We’re still forging on with proper eating habits, however, but it’s nice not to have the threat of a return to injections (of insulin) after enduring such a long stretch of hormonal injections. Now our friend/surrogate is constantly reading the labels of everything from TUMS to gum, checking levels of caffeine, sugar, vitamins, and minerals. How lucky we are to have a friend like her! As we all walked down Main Street for our weekly trek to our favorite breakfast joint this morning, I couldn’t help but smile as I watched her walk hand in hand with the boys. They are fortunate to have her in their life, but she is equally as fortunate to have them in hers.
Not that things aren’t sometimes a bit confusing for the boys. We just had the 11-week ultrasound to check on the condition of our fig-sized baby. It was thrilling to see our fully formed baby move around the womb when egged on by the IVF doctor as he poked around. The boys were right there in the exam room watching with wide-open mouths, demanding to know right then and there “Whose baby is that?” Dylan was so curious as to how the ultrasound probe was actually working that he tried several times to nonchalantly peek under our friend’s vanity gown.
“It’s your brother or sister”, I explained, “and it’s in her belly now because she is helping Papa and me grow it. When it’s all grown the doctors will take it out and then he or she will come live with us and be a part of our family.”
In the minivan on the way home from the exam we were bombarded with questions like a fast-paced tennis match. During the volley we tried to come up with an age-appropriate response to each question.
“Whose tummy did I come out of?”
“When will the baby be ready?”
“How does the baby breathe?”
“Can I help take care of her?”
“Are you sure there’s only one baby in there?”
“Does it hurt when she kicks?”
“What color will it be?”
The doctor gave us a DVD of the entire exam, and the boys have added it to their movie queue right next to Madagascar and Dora & Diego’s Winter Adventure. When we see our friend after a separation, the first question from the boys to her is “How’s the baby?” You can tell that they still think of it as our friend’s baby, and that probably won’t change until the baby is born around mid November, but that’s okay. It’s almost the same for Alen and me. Even though the finalization process (whereby our parental rights will be established) occurs next month, it won’t really sink in until we are holding Baby #3 in the delivery room. Although surrogacy doesn’t hold nearly the same uncertainty that adoption did for us, there’s still a certain degree of separation right now, especially since there are a few layers of dermis and a uterus between our future offspring and us.
Our friend really helps us out with babysitting duties as well. In fact, we’ve never had to hire a babysitter. Without fail, every Saturday for the last 3 ½ years we’ve been able to enjoy a date night thanks to her. She comes over Saturday afternoon and we leave in the early evening for dinner and a movie. The boys get excited for their own “movie night” with our friend. Our friend will spend the night in the guest room after the boys fall asleep around 8 pm, so there’s no rush to get home. I wait patiently for the text message from her “The angels are asleep” and then I can truly relax.
But our friend is her own person, complete with her own style of discipline and behavior, which at times is a little different from ours. For example, we prefer to handle things with purposefully steady, soft voices – our friend might not even consider the volume of her voice. We try to explain our discipline style directly to the kids while she is present so that everyone is on the same page, such as “Dylan, do you see that when your behavior got us angry we did not yell at you? Daddy and Papa prefer to explain things to you and Devin in a soft voice because we really want you to use a soft voice when you tell us things as well, understand?” Then we will proceed to tell them that even our friend will try not to yell at them, because yelling is not okay. She picks up on our message pretty well, but in the future we may even want to do something completely unorthodox like, oh I don’t know, talk to her directly about it like real adults! Baby steps, I guess.
It’s no secret that our situation is extremely unique, but I’ve always maintained that the more love that is shown to the boys as they grow up, the happier they will be. And love is something that our friend has plenty of!