My Mom Was a Surrogate
by Rose Mook
You want to bake a cake. You have all of the necessary ingredients: the sugar, the flour, the frosting… but you forgot the oven. (Bear with me, I understand the prospect of forgetting an entire oven seems laughable.) You search and search for a way to make that cake without the oven, until you remember — your neighbor has an oven, and she’s willing to share!
This was the apt description of gestational surrogacy my mother gave me when I was 4, and it’s always stuck with me. With her last official pregnancy in 2018, my mother had been pregnant for one third of my life, which means that a shocking 1 out of 3 days had potential for spontaneous trips to the store because she was “craving something salty,” or the prospect of driving 4 extra miles because “the In-N-Out burger on 3rd doesn’t make the pickles right.” Especially in my elementary years, the prospect of a constantly pregnant mother made my peers shiver. Many of them had a younger sibling and did not enjoy the 9 months leading to it. “Isn’t your mom always angry?” “Does that mean you have like 8 siblings?” It was questions like these to which I would give the 4 year old cake metaphor, and then all would be understood.
My family’s “normal”
When you grow up with it, surrogacy is just another part of your life. I understood from the first moment I knew my mom was pregnant, that I wasn’t going to get a sibling out of it. Children have very resilient little minds. As long as you can explain what’s happening to them in a clear and honest way, something like pregnancy without a sibling won’t make them sad. The way I saw it was my mom was a baker, and I got to meet cool people who my mom gave families to. They usually got me birthday presents, and I got a field trip to eat hospital food every 9 months. It was a win-win if there ever was one. Kids can see the brightness in any situation, as long as they have their own way of understanding it.
A lasting effect
With age, my carefree view on my mother and her baking subsided and was replaced with a much more meaningful view on surrogacy. To this day, I can name every intended parent, every surrogate child, and every hospital where my mom gave birth. Having the privilege of a surrogate mother means that I understand the birth process very intimately, especially when compared to my male peers. (P.S. if you want to make sure your child won’t have a child too young, be a surrogate. It’ll scare them out of it.)
Because of surrogacy, I am comfortable with pregnancy, with breast-feeding, with doctor visits and crying babies. Because of surrogacy, I have seen how demanding pregnancy is and am willing to help in any way I can. Because of surrogacy, I have had the pleasure of seeing families created. Throughout all the pickle craving runs and fast food drives, I’m thankful, and I always will be.