We have gotten to the point in the pregnancy where for the last couple of weeks, we have a weekly OB appointment. When we started this whole surrogacy process, we specifically prioritized someone local or within driving distance so that we could regularly attend these appointments. I always foresaw being there for every single appointment.
We were lucky enough to be matched with G who lives about an hour away.
I attended every single appointment, starting with her visits to the fertility clinic, where often, her appointment just consisted of blood work or an ultrasound all the way through to each OB appointment, whether brief or lengthy. I wanted to be a part of this process to the extent that I could, to be able to say I am not carrying this child, but I am the mother, to support G and to be able to tell stories of the pregnancy to LL Cool T.
Mark and I were so grateful and excited to know that the OB appointments would occur just 20 minutes away from home. We were able to work out schedules so that we were attending them regularly. We could ask the questions, meet the doctor, talk with nurses, and feel like all three of us were doing this together. One nurse even commented to us that she had never seen a surrogacy where the intended parents (that’s the term they use to describe us) were so present in the process. We loved that we were able to do this, to be as involved and invested as we could be without me being pregnant. Then, Covid-19 hit and everything changed.
I do not remember when we heard from G, but we got word that only she would be allowed into the OB appointment.
Mark and I quickly and without needing to say much, said, okay, we will still drive to the appointment and stay in the car, having G Facetime and call us. We knew it was not the same thing, but we would do whatever we could to stay involved. At that first appointment in the Covid crisis, we honestly and naively thought that this would be a one-time thing. We had an appointment four weeks later—surely, by that point, things would calm down and we could go back to the plan that we had been so excited about.
I had gotten very nervous about what all of these changes meant and so to put my mind at ease, I asked G if she would be willing to do an unscheduled ultrasound. She was totally willing and so that first Facetime was seeing LL on ultrasound. I cannot truly explain what it is like to see a screen of your child that is not inside you via another screen while you sit in the car together. If a major concern of surrogacy is feeling disconnected during the pregnancy, this was a huge trigger. How was it possible that we had started down this road, thinking the best, that this was a great sign that G was close and that we had the ability to be there for appointments and see and be a part of everything and then had that taken away from us? And as if I needed another thing to feel further out of reach and out of control, then my loyalty to Team Android also kept me from being the one whose phone was called for these appointments, leaving only Mark’s phone to be the one to ring and to show what we so desperately wanted to see.
Of course, I probably do not have to explain that the first appointment was not the only one and that in fact, it would be months of driving to the OB and sitting in our car until G called us.
We would strain to hear with what was sometimes bad connections in the examination room, with everyone slightly muffled due to mask-wearing, and then coming to us in the car. Everyone tried to do as much as they could to ask us questions, to see if we had questions, etc., but since we often felt like we missed tiny moments and parts of the story, we usually said no and waited for G to come out so that the three of us—with masks—could talk through what happened.
As these appointments wore on, it began to irk me that my dreams of telling all the stories of LL’s pregnancy to LL were drying up in front of me. We did not have or were unlikely to ever have the treasure chest of stories that we could mention as they came up, the way that most other parents could. I worried about whether not being able to participate in these appointments or really interact with G and her family during the process would affect our ability to connect and bond with LL Cool T after birth. If I hadn’t carried and neither of us had had the chance to develop a true relationship, friendship with G, would this child look at us and know we were their parents or would we get looks of confusion and uncertainty?
Early on in this pregnancy, I had had a dream one night where we were at LL Cool T’s baptism and as a special commemoration of what she had done, we had asked G to be the baby’s godmother, which she had happily agreed to. I told Mark and we agreed that we would not make any decisions, but see where the relationship went and keep that idea in the back of our mind. Unfortunately, it appears to be that is where the idea will stay because we were not able to truly develop that relationship.
Plus, and this is probably truly the worst part, it shows us that once again, we cannot control well, anything, or at least most things, a lesson that seems to painstakingly continues to be sent to us.
We were not able to control getting pregnant, we were not able to control staying pregnant, we were not able to control having a healthy baby, we were not able to control Colette’s death. Now, when a pregnancy finally seems to be going well, we cannot control the outside world and the health pandemic that we’re in.
But, as we continue to learn about our lack of control, in the meantime, we will sit outside our OB appointments and get as much information and connection as possible until LL arrives and we can go home and hide, all four of us together.