“Oh wow, you were a surrogate mother?” is usually how the conversation opens. Which is usually followed quickly by “How did you get into that?”, a question that leads into this explanation.
Then, nine times out of ten, the very next question that follows is “Isn’t it hard to give up the baby?”
Which I always answer emphatically with “No! It’s not hard at all. In fact in many ways, it’s the easiest part of the whole thing.”
At which point some people think I’m nuts and in need of some psychological help and proceed to tell me that they could never do what I did, which may very well be true. They say (always incredulously) that they could never give up a baby that grew inside their body. To each her own, right? But that’s what makes surrogate mothers so special – they just don’t see it that way.
A woman who decides to carry a baby for another person does not look at it as having to “give up her baby.” Rather, she sees it as “giving back their baby.” It’s a subtle, but very significant difference.
All women who are gestational carriers have one thing in common – they’ve been through pregnancy and childbirth at least once before, and for most of them, more than once. They know what it feels like to grow a baby, feel it kick and hiccup inside, bond with it, give birth, and hold it for the first time. They know how satisfying it is to finally meet the little person on the outside who’s been growing for nine months on the inside.
Which is exactly what a surrogate mother wants her intended parents to experience for themselves. Having a baby isn’t her motivation, but giving her intended parents their baby is.
Granted, a first-time gestational carrier has a perspective that’s limited to giving birth to her own children and she can never predict, with 100% certainty, how she will feel once she delivers her intended parents’ child. However, if a woman is acting as a gestational carrier for the right reasons (and thorough psychological screening early in the matching process can help determine this), she will be much more motivated by her intended parents’ experience of meeting and bonding with their baby than her own connection to the child.
Which isn’t to say that a gestational surrogate mother doesn’t enjoy meeting and holding the baby she’s just given birth to – of course she does – that’s only natural. But she knows from the start that it’s her intended parents’ baby, not hers. It was only hers to care for and deliver to them.