What does it take to be a friend?

Message from my fat cells received loud and clear:  Get down to the 150s once, good for you.  Down to the 150s twice?  We’ll just see!

Yesterday I hit the elliptical for 30 minutes on my way home from work and then this morning I walked another 30 minutes at 3.5 MPH.  It’s kinda a toss up for which one is more ‘taking it easy’ for the whole csection thing as the elliptical is more ‘work’, but the walking is more jarring for my body.   I know I won’t be running any time in the next couple of weeks due to the surgery but even if I hadn’t had that I think I’d put it off until I’ve got my legs a bit more flexible.  The actual incision is starting to bug me again, which is annoying.  More annoying?  The 182 that I got on the scale this morning.  Um, wrong direction, dumb scale.

I’m going to approach a topic that I’ve been avoiding on my blog due to the audience of this blog.  In not wanting to offend anyone, I’ve not said anything about this.  The thing is, it is entirely focused on me and not anything anyone has said or done specifically (well, at least, not anything that anyone has said or done that was offensive or wrong.)  The other thing is, it is a HUGE part of surrogacy from what I’ve heard so it deserves some mention.  I will try to keep it brief though as I think I could write a lot on this.

A part of the matching process asks both intended parents and surrogate what their expectations are regarding contact after birth.  At least, in a well formed match it should be.  This is one point that initially P, J, and I did not actually agree on.  They wanted little more than shared photos from time to time (according to the match sheet) and I was looking for, well, more.  I was looking for a match with someone that I’d become friends with.  A family that would welcome me in as a person, not as a person contracted to deliver a service.  When I read this on the match sheet I contacted the agency and said I didn’t think it would work out.

Now, after having spent some time in the internet world of surrogacy, I’ve learned that this is honestly the biggest issue that I’ve seen between IPs and surros.  The vast majority that I’ve seen have, in fact, formed great bonds of friendship that last well into the years after the children have been born.  I’ve been told my exposure has been a bit off from reality as most drift apart, mostly due to geographical distances.  I have, however, seen a lot of pain and heartache from the other side too.  Women that were told there would be a lot of contact, women that grew to love the IPs, and were then never spoken to again as soon or very soon after the pregnancy was over.  The thing is, even with all the things you can contract about, you simply can’t contract about that.  Even if everyone is being totally honest (with each other as well as themselves) it is impossible to know how you will actually feel when it is all said and done.  Minds and feelings can change.  It is the big scary unknown that you take on when you do a surrogacy with someone you did not know at all before matching.  For that matter, I would guess it is something that is unknown even if you are close friends before the matching because, like I said, no one really knows how they will react at the end.

In my specific situation, the agency really wanted our match to work out so they spoke with P and J about my concerns and ‘cleared up’ the meaning for all of us regarding contact after.  As the agency explained it, there was a misunderstanding regarding ‘contact’ and the concept of wanting to rather co-parent (aka open adoption type relationship) vs continued friendship.  My IFs confirmed that they were completely open to a maintained friendship type of relationship, they were just worried about the surrogate wanting to participate in raising their child(ren).  Everyone happy again, we matched and here we are.  (I have my hands full with my own children and while holding scrunchie babies and possibly feeding a bottle from time to time greatly appeals to me, I have no desire at all for the responsibility of giving enough attention to someone else’s children that they, the children, would consider me a stable part of their lives.)

Now, as I said in the beginning, P and J have not actually done ANYTHING to make me think that they don’t intend to, indeed, want to, follow through with that.  I have, however, in my mind been struck by the vulnerability that a surrogate enters once the pregnancy is over.  I have nothing for them at this point.  I’m not even delivering milk as some surros do so the value of my friendship at this point is resting on nothing more than the sparkling quality of my personality.  Certainly it is not bound by something as solid and unyielding as ‘your children are growing inside my body.’  While I try to put forth a confident front, I’m never all that confident about my value as a friend.  Honestly, I’m actually a kinda bad friend in that I get very absorbed into my own life and don’t pay nearly enough attention to the others in my life just for the sake of paying attention to them.   Generally in my life, things like changing jobs means never seeing those I used to spend every day with and share all ups and downs of life with, again.  I’ve never mastered the art of holding a close friendship through years of not having a specific reason to see someone each day.  As such, I’m always extraordinarily thankful for those friends that I do still have from college because I’m pretty sure that it is them doing most of the work and then forgiving me for dropping the ball when I do.

This whole history adds together to make one very awkward me.  Not only am I coming at this with a nagging worry that P and J initially SAID they didn’t want contact after and that some surros do, indeed, encounter IPs that are simply not comfortable having a lasting reminder in their lives that their children grew in someone else’s womb, but I don’t have the skills that are required anyway in holding together a long term friendship.  Truth be told, this is important to me so I’m really struggling in learning those skills.  I have a suspicion that there is a difference between contacting someone often enough to stay in touch and actually stalking them.  It is a bit like climbing mount Everest for me as the whole ‘don’t scare the new parents’ and ‘give them time to be a family’ and all that make for something that would be complicated even for someone with the sophistication to handle normal social situations.  Me?  Toddler birthday parties put me on edge.  I’m hoping that over time things will fall into a natural rhythm – and that it happens before P and J decide I’m just a tiny bit too pushy (whatever) and start screening all their calls.  In the meantime, I find myself  calling and leaving messages in the spirit of Monica from Friends: “This is me, Robyn, just being breezy!”  And yes, the dorkiness kinda makes me want to gag, just a little.

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3 Responses

  1. I love that as a ‘socially inept’ person, I’m always attracted to other ‘socially inept’ people.

    You are so right, many surrogates struggle with their role after the birth-if only there was a guide book that we could totally disregard! 🙂

  2. Not going to give you advice because I have no idea what you’re going through. I can only say that you are not a bad friend. One of the main keys to friendship to me is sustainability. We’ve been friends for 15+ years. Can you believe that? I don’t know that there’s a secret to it. But man, if you can remain friends through school, marriage, kids, divorce, etc. I think it’s a pretty solid friendship.

    And also I struggle with the whole staying in touch versus stalking issue with dating!

  3. Wow, you sound just like me just a month or so ago. I would like to open my blog up to you if your interested, I delievered my surro babe in Jan and very much feel/felt the same way. I believe many surros have the same worries and feelings and fears. Add the postpartum hormones, the shock of giving birth with no child in arms, the surrealness of it all and it can really wreak havoc on your mind and thoughts.

    Anyway, I hope you don’t mind me following along, and again welcome you to follow my blog. There are two, the first is my surro journey and the 2nd is life after surrogacy so to speak (which also has a bit of my feelings on the matter on the earliest posts of this blog).

    You did an amazing job, and noone can take that away from you!

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