Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let it Burn

So the moment comes when the hospital kicks you out. Usually it means you load your adorable newborn baby into a brand new car seat and drive, very slowly, home. But when you're a surrogate you leave with a paunchy belly and no bundle of cute to show for it. It is this moment specifically that causes a breakdown in non surrogates. The thought of "giving your baby away" is simply incomprehensible to most. They don't understand how we can do it.

Well, folks, here's how I did it. 

The morning of discharge arrived and I spent the morning cleaning our room and packing our bags. It was important for us to get out early so that Chris could get to work and I could get home to my girls. We let the nurse know as much and settled in for what is usually a several hour long wait for discharge.

Only this time it wasn't a several hour wait. It was really quite quick. And when they came in to kick me out, I had nearly no time at all to pop next door, hand off some breast milk and hug baby Ellie goodbye. In fact as I was having this emotional moment the nurse runner was in the hall impatiently waiting. I cut the goodbye short, walked away... and fell apart.

Even as I sit here and remember that day I fall apart all over again. I've spent many hours and attempts trying to get this blog done and always have to stop and walk away. The emotional toll is high. The impact on my life is huge. This moment was hard.This moment hurt. I can't imagine that will ever change.

I spent the better half of the rest of that day between crying breakdowns and sleep. What should be noted is that I did not feel sad. Not in the least. Isn't that a bit strange? I felt proud, I felt tremendous joy, I felt closure... and yes, I also felt pain. It's a mixed bag of emotions that I really can't do a good job of explaining. What I did not feel was regret, depression, disappointment or loss. Ellie was never mine to lose. From what I gather, my mixed bag of emotions as well as the accompanied difficulty explaining those emotions is completely normal to surrogates and not at all unique to me.

So to answer your question, we surrogates don't just walk away with ease and without a glance or two in the rear-view mirror.

I have had several interactions and goodbyes with Ellie since that one with no emotional stutter stepping. So what made that first one so difficult? Maybe the unexpected rushing of the goodbyes? I still don't know.

I'm more apt to believe that it had to do with the separation and the closure of this leg of the journey being officially over. For months I had been connected to Ellie by a physical barrier. We shared a body. She couldn't so much as move without my knowing it. Then I joyously handed her to her dads, but remained just a door away and able to see her pretty much whenever I wanted. Now all of the sudden I was walking away from her. My job was done. Her need for me was over.
From this moment on everything had changed. The leg of her life where I was essential was over. Now we start a new leg where I'm just some crazy American lady who dad and dad talk to on Skype occasionally. Maybe I matter to her, maybe I don't.

Ellie isn't my child. I didn't give MY child away. I don't feel maternal to her, never have and never will. So the issue of surrogates giving, "THEIR" baby away is still just silly to me. That said, this transitional phase is very bittersweet.

I ultimately described it to another surrogate as the break up that you initiate because you know it has to happen. Nothing has gone wrong. There are no bad feelings. There may even still be great feelings. You still care about the other person, might even love them. Might always love them. Even so, the relationship has run it's natural course and it's time for you both to move on. It hurts. It's OK for it to hurt. You cry. It's OK to cry. And slowly you heal.

In the words of Usher, you just gotta Let it Burn.

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