Saturday, May 24, 2014

Which Came First? The Surrogate or The Egg?

Aside from wondering how I'm going to "give up" the baby once he or she is born, people also wonder how I'm going to explain things to Sunshine and Sweet Pea. They're not quite sure how my kids will understand that I'm going to be pregnant for all this time and not bring the baby home. 

What's funny is how accepting and understanding Sunshine already is. This isn't her first rodeo with me being pregnant. But I'm pretty sure when I brought Sweet Pea home she didn't really understand that this little squirmy thing was actually the reason I was so fat for all those months. 

Also I'm not sure she was sold on the idea of Sweet Pea living with us for an indefinite amount of time. I'm actually still not sure she's sold on the idea, and it's been two years. Sweet Pea is still in a trial period as far as Sunshine is concerned.

And while I wanted to give her enough information, I didn't want to overwhelm her with tales of fertility treatments and the logistics of birth certificates and DNA. So I got down to her 4-year-old level and explained it in Magic School Bus terms.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Magic School Bus series let me first express my condolences. Miss Frizzle is basically the coolest teacher/scientist/role model/fashionista on the planet. Then let me direct you here so you can get caught up to speed.

Sunshine is totally obsessed with the Magic School Bus, and one of her favorite episodes is the one where The Friz takes the kids to a farm to see how chickens are hatched. There is one pen with only hens, which Dorothy Ann (Sunshine's favorite character who loves to read and is just a fountain of knowledge) discovers that eggs laid in that pen will never grow into baby chicks. These are the eggs we buy at the store and eat. 

These kids are on a mission to find a baby chick to replace their principal's chicken who escaped from their care. So they venture to the pen marked with a hen and a rooster. They learn (by going inside of a chicken) that in order for a baby chick to develop inside of an egg, the egg has to come from the pen with both boy and girl chickens. 

It's a pretty gnarly episode when the kids slide down the chicken's gooey reproductive system, but it's definitely the best "sex talk" I've ever seen in the form of a cartoon. 

So she's up to speed on how to make a baby so to speak. Now to explain the surrogacy. 

Her seriously fabulous preschool helped out here because each year they get a few dozen fertilized chicken eggs, and the children watch the eggs for 21 days in the incubator. They have some models so the kids can see what is developing each day in the egg, and like clockwork on day 21 the eggs begin to hatch and the kids get to witness the miracle of life. 

I explained to Sunshine that sometimes momma chickens will sit on their own eggs until they hatch. But sometimes momma chickens can't sit on their own eggs, so the eggs have to go in an incubator, and people like Miss Jennifer care for them and look after them until they hatch. Then once the baby chick comes out, Miss Jennifer sends it back to the farm to be with its momma. 

Now for the human part. I told her that there are women who want to be mommies so very badly, but they can't carry babies in their tummies. I asked how she thought those women feel.

She looked concerned and said she thought they would be so sad that they can't have babies. So I asked what she thought about me taking that mommy's egg and putting it in my tummy until it was ready to hatch. Just like Miss Jennifer does with the chicken eggs.
She lit up and said "That will make the mommy so happy!" followed by "Oh but do you have to eat the egg? Because you have to be careful not to crack it."

Got it champ. 

I explained that I didn't have to eat it, but a doctor will help put it in my belly. She was on board but warned that it takes 21 days to hatch, so I have to be patient. 

I composed myself and told her that human babies actually take about 9 months, so we would all have to be patient. And with surrogacy I'm finding out that patience is the name of the game. 

But that was it. I asked if she had any more questions, but nope. It was pretty cut and dry. There were mommies who couldn't hatch their own eggs. I have a decent incubator. Badabing bada boom.
I told her I would be meeting with a mommy who needed hatching help on Sunday, and asked if that was okay. She said it was fine and asked if we could go to the park now.

As I basked in the warm sunshine that day I watched my sweet girl light up as she soared on the swing set. Children are so accepting and honest. Of course there are many challenges with surrogacy that I didn't feel compelled to discuss with my 4-year-old. But they can just see this for what it is. It's a way for one mother to help another. 

That Saturday as we were driving to the garden center she piped up from the backseat and told my Hubs that she'd like for him to take her and her sister to the zoo on Sunday. I asked why I wasn't included, and she said "Mom. You have an egg to hatch. You can go next time."

Thanks babe. I'd love to go next time.