It all became clear yesterday.Posted: February 25, 2012
I have to admit – the very thing that brought me closer to my best friend last year is one of the things that tore us apart seven years ago. She decided to become a surrogate in 2004 – or I suppose the more correct term is “gestational carrier”. I thought she was doing it for the wrong reasons (money) and I didn’t agree with it. That was not the only factor in the 6 year break in our BFF-relationship, but it was definitely one of them. I think the thing that bothered me the most was that she didn’t discuss it with me beforehand, and it hurt my feelings. That is kind of a “big” thing to do without the support of your best friend. I was selfish and, let’s face it, young and stupid back then and have since made some realizations.
Fast forward to November 2010. Britt and I reunited, and went right back to where we left off in November 2004. It is amazing how some friendships just pick back up. In 2011, she decided that she was going to be a surrogate again – for the third time. (During our “break”, she was a surrogate for a second time and had another one of her own). I wasn’t involved in the decision, but at least I knew about it this time – this one was a little bit different. Okay, a lot different.
She was going to have a baby for a gay couple.
I immediately loved the idea. I am a big supporter of gay rights, and I was proud of her for doing this. She lives in a very small town, and if we’re keeping it real, small towns aren’t generally known for being the friendliest in situations such as this. It was enough for the community to know she was going to be a *gasp* surrogate – add to that the fact that it was going to be for a gay couple and the town might explode! She decided to keep that part under wraps due to fear of losing her job (yes, unfortunately, this was a very real possibility). She was not using her employer provided insurance, so there was really no reason for her to share any more information other than that she was going to be a surrogate again.
May 2011 – Britt and I were talking, and she dropped a bomb on me. She wanted me to go to Los Angeles with her in June for the FET – frozen embryo transfer. Her husband could not go, and she needed someone to go with her (to give her all the injections that were required every day), so she asked me. Of course I would go! We planned as much as we could in the short amount of time we had before the trip, we okayed it with the fathers that I was coming instead of her husband, and we decided to go a few days early so we could sightsee. We had the best time and it really cemented the fact that we were meant to be best friends. We’ve both talked and decided that we would not dwell on the fact that we missed out on six years of each other for purely selfish, stupid reasons and to move forward with our friendship instead of looking back – but it is difficult sometimes! I can’t help but think of the things we could have been doing in those six years and what we missed out on. We had 3-4 days of sightseeing and then it was time for the FET.
She met the fathers when they “interviewed” her earlier in the year. I had not met them, obviously. Only one of them (the biological father – his sperm + a donor egg) was able to make it to California for the procedure, and we met him for breakfast the morning of the FET. The actual procedure went very quickly – I actually got to look at the thawed embryo through a microscope before it was implanted. I was in the room when my best friend got pregnant. Talk about crazy! The dad gripped my hand like nobody’s business while the doctor worked on Britt and then he said a prayer for Britt and the (hopefully) baby.
The next 3 days were pretty uneventful. She needed to be on moderate bedrest until we flew home, so we watched lots of TV, played on the ipad and laptops, read books, and slept. After all of the running around we had done the few days before, we needed to rest anyway! We did order a pizza one night and went up to the rooftop deck of our hotel to eat it – that was awesome. The view was beautiful. We flew home (neither of us wanted to go back home, we LOVED Los Angeles) and then we waited.
The next weekend, I was back at her house for a craft weekend. She took a pregnancy test and it was positive. She said that she had a feeling all along that it would work – that she could actually *feel* the implantation when it happened. She told the dads, and everyone was excited! Baby was due at the end of February/beginning of March 2012.
The baby would be born via c-section, in a hospital near where Britt lived. Both of us were a little nervous for how things would go down, what with the two dads – not to mention the whole surrogate thing. The dads took a tour of the hospital the day before the birth and (I assume) explained things for the staff so there were no surprises the next day. I drove down after work the day before so I could be with Britt and see the dads/baby/run interference in case there were problems.
I had no idea that that day would be a life-changing experience for me.
I have never seen such love and caring towards a stranger before. I was the stranger. Remember, I had only met one of the dads – I had emailed with both of them a couple of times just for various things, but that was it. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from 1) the dads, 2) the doctors and nurses, and 3) the rest of the family that came in for the birth. I was excited, but nervous at the same time. Britt got settled, paperwork completed, IV in – all the fun stuff that comes with a c-section – and then in came the dads. I got a big hug from M, the one I met in Los Angeles. He immediately told me how glad he was that I was there to witness this, since I was there at the very beginning.
Then I met K, his partner. I was especially excited to meet him after our emails. He did not disappoint – wrapped me in a huge hug as soon as he saw me.
We all sat in the hospital room and talked a little about how the day was going to go – Britt, her husband, me, M, K, and the nurses. You could just feel the excitement in the air! The nurse showed me where to go to see the dads walk down the hall with the baby, and made sure that I knew so I could tell their family that was in the waiting room.
M has twins that are in 3rd grade. The baby that was born yesterday is actually their biological sibling – all of the embryos were frozen at the same time! How cool is that?
Anyway – K’s parents came into the room to meet Britt/her husband/myself. They were awesome. So sweet, so excited, so anxious. K was not in the picture when M had the twins – he came into their lives when they were toddlers. We went out to the waiting room and well…we waited. And waited. And waited. I met the twins – smart as a whip, well-mannered, normal little kids – and M&K’s best friend, Uncle K. We clicked *right away*. He is the twins’ godfather. He is also gay and has a partner. They do not have children, but you wouldn’t know it. Those kids love that man, and he loves them something fierce.
I will just say that their family made me feel like I was part of their family. They turned what could have been a really strange situation into a day filled with love and tears and happiness and hugs. I witnessed such love and acceptance and sheer happiness yesterday. THAT is love.
A mother (grandmother!) telling me that while she may not have envisioned her son’s life going the way it has, but that she loves him unconditionally and wants him to be happy – and knowing that his life IS what makes him happy – that is love.
A father (grandfather!) who absolutely BEAMED when he was talking about his wife and kids and grandkids – that is love.
An honorary uncle/godfather who so obviously adores his best friends and their children as though they were his own – that is love.
A family that can take in a stranger for the day and make her feel welcome and loved – that is love.
A woman that gives selflessly of her body for nine months to help a couple have a family that would otherwise not be able to – that is love.
A husband that “allows” his wife to do this for strangers – that is love.
Britt’s kids that know that their mommy is pregnant and having a baby for another family, and loving it like they would a sibling – that is love.
M&K’s twins that are too young to fully understand what is going on, but trusting their dads that there will be a baby – that is love.
Being there for the birth of your best friend’s first child and being there for the birth of the last child she will have – that is love.
This little baby boy that is so wanted and is already so loved by so many people – that is love.
The birth went as perfectly as it could. Britt was a champ. I stood with the family as M&K walked down the hallway with their new baby boy into the nursery. I was asked to be in family pictures. I took pictures. I cried with the family – happy tears, of course! We all watched together as M&K watched their son. They could not take their eyes off of him. They had huge grins on their faces, and were obviously overjoyed with the little miracle in the bassinet. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I didn’t see two men behind that glass wall. I didn’t see a man and a woman. I didn’t see two women. What I saw was a family.
Britt helped them to become a family of five. She gave the grandparents a new baby to love. She gave the twins a sibling to grow up with. She gave Uncle K a new godchild (I believe this one makes EIGHT!). She taught her own family that love comes in many forms.
When it was time for me to leave (stupid job!), I went to the room that M&K were staying in with the baby to say goodbye to everyone. I will never forget K’s mom hugging me so tight and crying, making sure that Britt and I would take care of each other. We probably hugged three times. I got hugs from the kids, hugs from M&K, hugs from Uncle K (and his card – apparently we’re going to have martinis together – this requires a pretty decent plane ride!). I felt so much love yesterday – that morning, they were strangers. By the time I left last night, we were family. As Uncle K said, friends are the family you choose for yourself. Yes, it has been said many times before, but now I completely understand it. It became clear in one little day.
I am a lucky girl.