26 July 14
As a healthy, fertile woman, would you consider birthing a baby for your sister if she couldn’t have children but desperately wanted one? What about for your beloved friend? My answer is yes, and this is what I’m choosing to do. I’m delighted to share publicly that I’m pregnant again — but the baby isn’t mine. I’m growing a child for close friends of mine who can’t naturally conceive and birth their own child.
When I consciously decided to birth a baby and allow someone else to parent the child, I knew the only way I could accomplish this was if I wholly and purely loved the intended parents. So I dove headfirst into intentionally falling in love with the couple that are the parents of the child growing in my womb. I met Ágúst and Ben online, we clicked immediately, and time and our shared experiences have confirmed that we are a good match for this endeavour. Although we’re separated by half a planet, we maintain a close relationship — with daily contact — and every time I feel the baby kick, I think of them with love, looking forward to the day when they’ll be holding their precious child.
Surrogacy is not a novel concept to me. I grew up with Biblical stories of traditional surrogacy. I also noticed it in the lives of the West Africans who lived around me; I simultaneously recognised that while the Africans accepted intra-familial child-placement as normal, Westerners kept trying to define the relationships based on their own rigid ideas of what constitutes a nuclear family. “He’s not your brother, he’s your cousin,” they would insist to a child who had breastfed, grown and lived alongside their “brother” all their lives.
As a young mother, I considered egg donation. While browsing the parents’ magazines advertising the latest highchair design or gourmet birthday party impresarios, I often noticed the quietly desperate, paid-for rectangles where a loving couple pleaded for a generous woman to donate her eggs so they, too, could start a family. This idea was rejected by my husband who didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of genetic offspring that weren’t part of our lives.
Then as a single woman, the idea germinated again, and it was boosted by encounters with friends who shared their stories. One woman confided how she had donated her eggs — several times — despite the uncomfortable medical procedures that accompanied it. Then in Western Australia I met an amazing woman who shared her story of traditional surrogacy for her own best friend. The hardest part of the surrogacy journey, Millicent said, was being complicit in her friend’s emotional pain as she mourned again the loss of her dreams of pregnancy while she watched her husband’s baby grow in Millicent’s womb.
I knew that I didn’t want to deal with another woman’s emotional pain — my own is enough to process consciously. In the last couple of years, I’ve been growing in love for the gay community, and I knew having a baby with a gay couple would be a way I could make a meaningful difference in their lives. I contacted Ágúst and Ben through a surrogacy website, and from my first tentative email, we’ve developed a solid and fun friendship.
My girls are delighted to be part of this pregnancy too. They’ve followed every step of the process from the beginning. I had to gain my daughters’ blessing before I could leave them for two weeks last year to travel to Ben and Ágúst in Iceland, see the fathers’ home, meet their families and basically scope out their lives. When Ben and Ágúst came for Christmas and later Ágúst joined us for a month in Tasmania, the girls loved getting to know the men. By the end of Ágúst’s solo visit, he couldn’t sit down without someone on his lap, and while we’re apart from the fathers, the girls lavish all their love for the men onto my expanding belly. They kiss, cuddle and speak tenderly to the baby growing in my womb. They know that the baby isn’t ours and are looking forward to travelling to Europe before the birth.
During the past year, I’ve been buoyed by friends and family who have supported me with love and practical assistance. Two excellent friends looked after my four girls during my quick European trip last year. My mother-in-law flew to Tasmania to support me when I needed time and space for personal appointments. My dad — who is absolutely thrilled to be the grandfather of a gayby! — met the fathers and has offered his unconditional love and practical help. Other friends opened their homes to us, welcoming us when I was laid low with morning sickness, running me baths, and generally caring for me and the girls.
I know that what I’m doing will augment our worldwide network of loving friends — my girls will always be welcomed in Ágúst and Ben’s home when they choose to start travelling independently. I also expect that we’ll see more of the fathers and their child in the future — during their visits to Australia, the men fell in love with the country— especially Tasmania.
I’m not doing this for money, I’m doing it — quite literally — for love. The love that I put into this pregnancy is already returned to me multi-fold by those who support my endeavour. Unlike with commercial surrogacy, I’m not being paid for the pregnancy in any way, although the fathers did offer. Without any contracts, payments or legalities, this isn’t a surrogacy — it’s a love affair! I’ve enjoyed a romance with a married couple, fallen pregnant to them and will birth their baby in their home. The fathers will pay for the home-birth midwife’s services, and I’m covering all our travel costs and living expenses.
I really want to make an extraordinary difference in the world. I don’t have many amazing skills, but I do possess a generous spirit and the superpower of excellent child-production, so I’m using these to transform the lives of a couple by presenting them with a child. My gift is an intimate, personal offering — carefully considered and intentionally packaged with love. I trust that the life that we are consciously bringing into the world will create many positive ripples on the other side of the globe, just as my own children’s have and will continue to do.
With a seventeen-month gestation, so much love has gone into creating this precious baby. I’m thrilled I get to help start another family — mine has brought me such joy! — and I look forward to continuing a relationship with our Icelandic family in the years to come.