I have always been somewhat superstitious. For as many times as I have knocked over a salt shaker, I have tossed salt over my shoulder. "I don't want to jinx myself" is pretty much standard vocabulary. I'm one to say things like "knock on wood," when I am speaking about something that is going well or "God forbid," if I am talking about a potentially negative situation occurring. "Ptoo ptoo ptoo...spit on me," if you are saying something favorable, to keep the evil away, is probably my all time favorite and very common in the Greek family I grew up in.
So sharing the fact that we are trying to conceive, before we have even officially started trying, is completely out of my comfort zone. The superstitious side of me feels all of the above. I might be jinxing us now that I have started talking about it.
Both Jeff and I like to air on the side of caution. And to give you an idea how private (and superstitious) we can be sometimes, we kept our first surrogacy journey a complete secret until we were 20 weeks along! Which is why we created Our Pea In Her Pod; a place to document and then share our journey with our loved ones. It wasn't until our third trimester that we shared it publicly and that was when I realized people were very inspired by and curious about our story. This time around we decided to share before the journey even started as a way to inspire people who have endured a difficult path to parenthood, to educate those who are interested in learning more and to layout a road map for those who can't quite wrap their heads around untraditional ways of creating families. After all, surrogacy really is quite a journey and can be a long and arduous process.
With all that said, as we start this journey with Britany, a start that has already been beset by roadblocks, I am increasingly interrupted with moments of fear and flashbacks from our difficult journey. I am questioning whether or not my being so transparent is the right thing for me and my family. I've been reminiscing about all that we have been through...what has brought us to this place. It hasn't been easy. And it's been downright very sad at times. Now that this cycle has been canceled (our transfer date was supposed to be February 28) those feelings are all too familiar.
The truth is this second surrogacy journey has been going on for 2 years now. It will be 2 years next month that we signed with our agency and Britany is the second gestational surrogate that we have been blessed to know. Our first match was in June 2015 with "Erin" and her husband "Brett", a couple from Missouri. We signed our contract relatively quickly and got pregnant on the first try! Things were going so smoothly until the second week of the pregnancy when Erin texted in a panic that she felt a gush of blood and intense cramping and thought she was having a miscarriage. The next 4 weeks were an emotional roller coaster ride as we thought at any moment we would lose the baby from what turned out to be a subchorionic hemorrhage. We were reassured several times that the baby was completely fine but at 9 weeks we were all devastated when we lost the baby.
Because our doctor considered this a "later in pregnancy" loss and because we knew that the cause was not related to a chromosomal abnormality in the baby (we genetically tested our embryos through PGS), she did not recommend that we continue working with Erin. We were crushed, not just from losing our baby, but by having to deliver the decision to Erin, who we deeply cared for and considered a dear friend.
To make matters more difficult, because we had kept that first surrogacy experience a secret from everyone, including our families, we felt very alone after the loss. We both wanted to be with our extended families. I wanted to feel my mom's arms wrapped around me. But we had not told them anything. So the conversations we had were very long ones, recounting how we chose a surrogacy agency, matching with a surrogate, successful transfer and finally arriving at the crux of what we were feeling. It was exhausting.
So here we are. At the very beginning of our new journey, which we have very consciously decided to be completely transparent about. Not only have we shared with our families but also with friends new and old and even complete strangers! It's liberating and I am so happy to be in a position to inspire and encourage others. But, to be completely honest, I have been doubting whether or not I made the right choice in doing so. Sharing something that is so incredibly sacred and intimate with the world makes the thought of facing disappointment and failure harder. It makes me feel like if I face disappointment but I may be disappointing so many others also.
I know that everyone is rooting for us. People have been so incredibly supportive and I can really feel all the love. But when I had miscarriages after having previously announced my pregnancies, I felt like I was letting everyone down when I had bad news to deliver. I know this might not make sense to everyone, but it's a real feeling I experienced and one that I had to work through. Of course, along with the fear and doubt I am feeling, I am also holding hope and love.
With all this reflecting, I have thought back to a time before I was a mom and all I had was my faith. I did everything I possibly could to stay positive. I created vision boards, meditated and visualized myself pregnant and seeing the birth of my baby. I used to flip through my Wayne Dyer "Inner Peace Cards" and listened to "101 Ways to Transform Your Life..." every single day. I can hear Dr. Dyer's voice in my head, "Begin to change the vocabulary you use to describe yourself and your expectations. Instead of saying, ‘maybe, if I'm lucky or perhaps, and one never knows,' use words and phrases such as, 'Absolutely, certainly, and I know I can.' When you use these kinds of words that reflect an absence of doubt, You’re going to begin to conduct your life in the very same way. Watch out for those things that sort of communicate to others and to yourself that you don't really have within you the capacity to manifest what your want for yourself and your life."
It's not easy to maintain a complete absence of doubt when you have confronted roadblocks time and time again. I will probably continue to say "knock on wood" as we move along on this journey, because it is just part of who I am. Although there is still a voice inside of me that is afraid to share - for fear of failure, disappointing others, and being open to judgement and criticism - there is a louder voice inside of me that absolutely knows it is my duty to crack myself open, to be honest and vulnerable as a way to continue to heal my wounds and to help my fellow sisters. After all, as Brene Brown says...