Monday, January 11, 2010

Sorry, I can't respect you disrespecting me

The first time I was a surrogate my father-in-law and his wife (my step-mother-in-law?) were not exactly supportive of the whole endeavor. They were convinced that I was going to be emotionally devastated after the baby was born and I had to "give it up". This was pretty much the only topic of conversation between us every time I saw them for the entire time that I was pregnant.

I tried explaining that I didn't think of it as "giving the baby up" because it wasn't mine to give. I tried explaining that I didn't tie carrying a child to being a child's mother since I had not carried Joseph and he was mine. I tried explaining that I felt 100% confident in my ability to care for this child and nurture it while it was with me and then let go when the time came.

Nothing I said made a bit of difference. I always got the same answers. "Take care of yourself because this is going to be so hard on you." "Don't hold the baby after it's born because that will be too hard for you." "This is going to make you so sad!"

In the end I resigned myself to the fact that they simply couldn't understand where I was coming from and that I would probably never be able to make them understand my point of view. I figured I would prove it to them by not being emotionally wrecked after the baby was born.

Then Little A was born and it was so, so, so good. I was over the moon happy with the whole event. I was proud of myself and happy and excited and the whole thing really went beyond every expectation that I had. I mean, yes, there were rough spots because J was neurotic and he made me a little nuts at times but other than that it was all really positive.

At that point I figured any naysayers would have to take back their concerns. (And it wasn't just my in-laws, there have been a few others too. It's just that my in-laws have been the most vocal in their disagreement but that's partly because some people have stopped talking to us because of this but that's a whole different story.) After all, there could be no denying now that I had done the right thing. Surrogacy is a little unconventional but it was such a great thing for me and family. I think anyone who knows us, really knows us, sees how wonderful it has been for all of us.

Then I got pregnant again.

And what do you know? Second verse, same as the first. A little bit louder and a little bit worse.

"This is going to be so hard on you." "You'll be so sad when you have to give them up." "You can't be happy with how this ends!" "This will just leave you heart broken."

When we saw my father-in-law and step-mother-in-law for Christmas this was the main topic of conversation. It was beyond frustrating. It soon became clear to me that they weren't even listening to what I was saying because they were so focused on what they were saying. At one point my father-in-law said "You won't see the babies after they're born right? While you're in the hospital I mean?"

I replied that yes, I would see them and in fact that plan was for me to possibly nurse the babies while we were still in the hospital. His response? "You won't hold them though right?"

No. Someone else will stand across the room and hold them while I nurse them with my Go-Go-Gadget Boobs.

I guess it was that moment where I realized it was pointless to argue. I wasn't being listened to anyway so I took a nap.

As we were getting ready to leave my step-mother-in-law pulled me aside to warn me yet again how hard this was going to be on me. I guess I was losing my patience a little bit and I said (a little snappishly) that really, I was fine and I would be fine and that I knew what I was doing. She stiffened a little bit and said "Well then. I just hope you don't get a lot of stretch marks!"

Stretch marks? Really? That's your final warning? Stretch marks? A) It's not like I'm going around in a bikini real often anyway. Stretch marks aren't going to bother me all that much. B) Do you really think I would choose to be a "professional womb" if I was worried about stupid crap like stretch marks? C) You're just really determined that I regret this in some way, shape or form aren't you? If I'm not crying over the loss of the babies then I damned well better be crying over stretch marks.

I used to think that their lectures were coming from a place of genuine, albeit misguided, concern for me. Now, not so much. I don't know what it is but I suspect it's that they really don't agree with what I'm doing and they're using these "you'll be sorry" tactics to express that. I could be wrong but it seems to me like genuine concern doesn't usually take the form of ignoring what someone says, ignoring their past experiences and beating them over the head with your own biased and uninformed perceptions.

I don't expect everyone I know to be totally on board with what I'm doing here. I get it, you know? Surrogacy is unconventional. Surrogacy for a gay couple is even more unusual. I understand that people could have some issues or concerns. I don't agree with them but I get it.

If I can respect that other people might see things differently than me is it really so much to ask the same of them? Is it so much to ask that people don't try at every turn to make me feel bad about something that I feel so good about?

The only thing I'm feeling bad about now is my relationship with my in-laws and that's unfortunate for a variety of reasons but I really don't know how to fix it with this issue hanging over us. What to do, what to do?

One year ago today I was leaving on a jet plane.
Four years ago today Joseph skipped and it made me happy.


Emily said...

Go-Go-Gadget Boobs--I am thinking you have a future in porn here. You say people don't always like the unconventional, but Jenny, there is always someone out there who LOVES the unconventional.

Ferdinand the Duck said...

Eff 'em. You're still my hero and truly, what could be more important than validation from your internet friends ;-)

Seriously though, I'm constantly amazed and impressed and proud of you for doing this. I want to be half as cool as you when I grow up.

shyestviolet said...

go-go-gadget-boobs. :D glad I'm not the only one who thought that rocked.

susan said...

I totally startled the sleeping babe on my chest by snorting at the Go-Go-Gadget Boobs mental image. (She fell right back to sleep though, fortunately.)

I don't know how you keep your cool with repeated comments like that from the in-laws. Especially the second time around! Especially while pregnant and hormonal! I would completely lose my shit and say something that would undoubtedly cause irreparable damage to the family relationship, or something. You're a stronger woman than I.

Anonymous said...

My dear Jen, I know I am your mother-in-law, and perhaps now you understand why I am not with your father-in-law. Nothing ever changes, there is no growth, there is no other perspective, no evolution of ideas, no progress. Your best plan is to just let it go. Consider the source and dismiss the comment. I am so very proud of you for not loosing your cool.. I would have probably screamed, "You just aren't listening to me!!".. and what does holding the babies have to do with have them inside you now, what difference is holding them outside of you going to make....Arrghhh...don't let Jesse read this.. I don't like to say bad things about his father. I have a cool mental picture of your Go-Go-Gadget Boobs.... can yo disconnect them from the rest or your body?? That would be really really convenient!!
Love you.... Judy

Jen said...

I will never forget the first words out of your mouth when A was born.... "I am SO happy for them" came from your lips as you cast a loving, tired, SATISFIED look across your shoulder at the happiest fathers in a 500 mile radius. I was forever changed by that moment just by simply being present at that birth, and its something I'll never forget. You are doing this for all of the right reasons, and for none of the wrong reasons. I'm proud to call you my friend.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think you are fucking awesome to go through pregnancy for someone else. Because pregnancy is no fun.

Jen said...

God, I love you all.

Judy - Jesse doesn't read my blog often but if I tell him not to read it you can bet he'll read it the first chance he gets.

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom said...

You know, I could never do what you're doing. I just know that. But there are special people out there, like you, that can give that gift, and God bless them for being able to. My personal opinions (or anyone else's) don't matter--you're giving of yourself.

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom said...

P.S. Go-Go-Gadget Boobs will have me giggling all week. ;-)

Stimey said...

Not only that (and well said, by the way), but what do they expect you to do? See the light and somehow travel back in time to avoid the whole thing?

I think what you do is amazing and wonderful.

dancing_lemur said...

Ugh, I just don't understand why some people feel the need to loudly express their opinions over and over and over. I'm thinking if a firmly stated, "I appreciate your concern, but I am very confident and comfortable with my decision to this" doesn't work, maybe some passive aggressiveness is worth a try. Such as, ignore their statements and reply with something absurd and annoying like, "Do you really think that haircut was the best way to go? You are really going to regret it when THAT mess starts getting longer. I hear that a bad haircut adds 20 pounds and a whole crop of new gray hair."

But really, I think what you are doing is wonderful, and I admire you a lot for it.

Suzy Voices said...

I cannot understand who in the world could not totally think you're the bravest, most wonderfully strong, loving, giving woman in the universe. Anyone who doesn't should just shut the hell up.

I've never even met you, and I'm SO PROUD of you. :-)

Sarah said...

Good for you! Sometimes the hardest thing is taking the high road, and you did it wonderfully. Oh, and Go-Go-Gadget Boobs, AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

It's not my in-laws that are this way to me, but my own raised-me-theirselves-parents. I take strength from reading about your zenner-than-me handling. It ain't easy.

Anonymous said...

You are truly amazing :D

Anonymous said...

Kind of off topic... But how do I know if surrogacy is right for me? Ever since the birth of my own 2 babies- conceived with a sperm donor, I've felt the need to help someone else in this way. Or perhaps through egg donation. Ergg. So frustrating not knowing what or how to do this for someone.