Kristen F. (34), Sydney (7), Macie (5), and Harvey (2.5). Kristen was pregnant as a gestational carrier at the time she was photographed.
Kristen shares -
“I have not personally experienced the loss of a pregnancy .or child. I have had 3 typical, uneventful pregnancies, and deliveries to create and grow my family. There has never been a point where I had to consider my fertility in our family planning process. In fact our third baby was a complete surprise and one that came while I was in the midst of being approved to become a gestational carrier. That process was obviously put on hold.
Our son was born in October of 2015, and in January of 2017 I restarted the process of being approved to become a gestational carrier again. I am currently 36 weeks pregnant as a gestational carrier for another family that before starting this this journey, I had never met. I feel lucky that because of my history during pregnancy and delivery, I was able to go into the entire process and especially the embryo transfer feeling like everything would work out just like we wanted it to. I told the parents I would always see and hold onto the light at the end of the tunnel, even when it might be hard for them to. Every pill, suppository, patch, injection (72 total) I gave myself was more than worth it to be at this point.
I have people ask how I will be able to just "give up the baby" when they are born. I remind them that this baby is in no way genetically connected to me, I am just carrying. If at any point before the transfer I thought that giving the baby back to its parents where they have always belonged would be an issue - I never would have moved forward. I consider it such an incredible gift that this couple who had never met me in person, trusted me with their last embryo for a chance to grow the family they have been dreaming of.
We have always been open about me being a gestational carrier with our kids and how everything would work. They have come to know the parents of the baby, and they know that once the baby is born it will leave our care and go back home. They are able to in their own words, explain to strangers who ask about the baby that we are not keeping it, but growing it for someone else. They love this baby and are always telling baby how excited its parents are to meet them. It was really important to me they understood as much as they could about what was going on every step of the way and were able to ask questions about anything that was happening. I hope someday my kids see their mommy as someone who was willing to sacrifice and put herself through something so intense - so another family could have the child they had so desperately wanted. I want them to know that that helping others when you are able is a gift, no matter how big or small of an act it is. That love will always win over everything else.
I have always been critical of how I look and how others perceive me. Right before the embryo transfer for this gestational carrier journey, I felt I looked my best and my confidence was high. However, I still found myself relying on what others said to me about my looks to make me feel that way. I look at my kids and remind myself daily that they do not care if I have a little extra weight somewhere. They care about getting enough mommy cuddles and hugs - enough face to face time to talk about their day and feelings and whatever the newest craze happens to be. I am learning to remind myself daily that I am not defined by how I look, but by how I act and live my life and I want my kids to all learn, know and hold onto that. Because of my kids, I am slowing learning to love my body at any given point in time in hopes they never struggle to love theirs.
I have loved being a mother since the first time I found out I was pregnant. With our first, I did not form too many expectations on how things would go beyond being tired, and loving this new life we had created. My birth plan was to try and go natural, but get an epidural if needed. I did end up getting an epidural and it caused some lingering issues after for months. I decided with our next two I would have med free labor and deliveries and things went much more smooth during and after. I never allowed myself to think it would or could not work. I do not recall having lingering periods of sadness after any birth. I was tired like every new parent and some days were harder than others as we were changing and growing to t the needs of our new family unit. I felt like I was always nursing (two of my three refused bottles so it was hard for my husband to help in that way), so I recall those being of the longest nights where I felt the most alone. That never really lingered into the day time though.
I am constantly growing and changing as a mother and woman and constantly wondering if I am doing anything right at any given time during the day, week, month. I often force myself to take a step back and look at my kids and the big picture. They are fed, sheltered, healthy, smart, kind and loved beyond words by so many people that even when everything seems to be going wrong, I know that we will get through it and grow together.
I wanted to share a small part of my journey as a mother and as a gestational carrier/surrogate. I feel like surrogacy is still met with a lot of questions and judgement perhaps from lack of understanding about what it involves or why someone would want to become one. As a stay at home mom my life is focused on my husband, children and family. The decision to become a surrogate has allowed me to step out and do something for someone else that is bigger than I think I am even really grasp sometimes. I am no hero or saint for this decision. I am a woman who by whatever stroke of luck, has had the ability to become and stay pregnant. I have had relatively easy pregnancies and deliveries and I have never taken that for granted.
UPDATE: Love filled the room when baby girl was born on October 15th. Her parents were present and involved in helping me work through contractions from the minute we walked into the hospital that day. This entire journey came full circle the moment I helped hand her to her mom and said "you have a baby girl". There were and are no moments of sadness for me. To this day my heart is filled with happiness at the thought of what happened over this past year and the family that was created. Every update and picture that comes my way brings a huge smile to my face. I am forever thankful to my body for allowing me to grow and birth four beautiful children; three of my own and one for a family who went through so much and never gave up hope.”