You found us. Awesome.
This feels a little bit like the first date I had with my now-husband. Awkward. Knowing how to "start" is always weird; you want to know about me, our journey and how it came to be that my baby is growing in my sister's belly.
It is crazy, absolutely 100% crazy, and I can't believe it's MY reality. Growing up I was the oldest child and a very typical oldest child at that- you know: Type A, leader, organizer, thinker, cautious and motherly. Our parents had four children together; Shelbey is in the middle and six years younger than me. When my mom and dad told my brother and I we were going to have another sibling we were at an Italian restaurant and I recall vying for a sister and the whole evening was a celebration of another little baby! When she was born our parents allowed us to be in the room and I cut the umbilical cord - I was SO excited to have a sister. Not ever could I have imagined then that she would have an umbilical cord attached to my baby. Or that she had come into my life and this would be our path - surrogacy. The girl who made me a big sister to a girl is making me a mom.
Growing up Shelbey was always the boss, we did what Shelbey said when and how she said it. Her voice was always heard. That sass was balanced be her overwhelming adorableness; she had these white-blonde curly locks that made everyone jealous and a pair of oversized baby blue eyes. Mom always made sure she was dressed as the girliest girl you can envision: her outfits had coordination bows, shoes and socks. Always. As she grew into her role in our family it was clear that while sassy, Shelbey was sweet. She, too, was motherly. Though there were many years between us, together we would play for hours with her doll house just setting up the house and arranging it making sure everything was in the right place. We carried our American Girl dolls around and changed them into jammies at nighttime and made sure they were tucked into their beds. Eventually I went off to college though she obviously stayed home we made sure to have sister days. We would spend days shopping, going to concerts and our nights watching really crappy reality TV. As she got into high school and older our relationship really became one of not just sisterhood, but of best friends, too. We talked about not only stuff that mattered, like our family and our hopes and dreams, as well as stuff that really didn't matter, like Hollywood news or other dumb stuff that stays between sisters. We started calling each other "sister friend" and that couldn't be a more accurate description of our relationship. The point is we just wanted to talk to each other and share life as sisters and as friends.
I hope, though, you don't get the impression that Shelb and I have the same personality - we don't. While I am more of a worrier, planner, re-planner and "just so" type of person she's much more "go with the flow." If you're visual: she's the multi-color and patterned floppy hat, sandals, flowy skirt and wavy hair to my grey toned peacoat, closed-toed shoes, precise scarf and sleeked low pony. I'm the girl with her list of lists and Shelbey has no need for lists. We are each other's balance. She is great at baking, crocheting and a trained cosmetologist. I, on the other hand, bake spongy chocolate chip cookies, read and live behind a camera lens. All that aside, we are both creatives, we both have visions and we both have faith that things happen how they happen for a reason.
When Paul entered my life he entered Shelbey's life, too. I had boyfriends in the past that Shelbey didn't bother to mince her words when she told me she didn't care for them. To watch her positively react to Paul and form her own relationship with them was so fun to watch. They quickly were able to joke with each other got along so well. Sometimes the two of them gang up on me and make fun of me for raising my voice an octave when I'm excited or getting too worked up about trivial things. Good times.
So that's the abridged version catching you up to now.
Even before Paul and I got married we knew we wanted to have kids and be parents. Immediately we were going to see specialists in an effort to get pregnant. If you've never been through infertility treatments I pray you never will. It was, and continues to be, the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. It's a consuming, draining, exhausting, teasing and bank-emptying punch-in-the-gut each month. Our hopes were raised each month that we tried, and optimistically wrote four-digit checks at the front desk, that THIS would be our month. This would be the cycle that would bring two pretty lines on a pregnancy test and a later baby's cheek to our lips.
But. No. Not once. Not ever. One line. Negative. Not pregnant.
Through our fingers our hope, optimism, cheer, personalities, life, funds and trust slipped.
During some of our treatments both Shelbey and I were nannies. I would HAVE to go to the clinic on certain days for blood draws, ultrasounds or a myriad of other tests and because the clinic is for patients trying to conceive children are not allowed. Not once was Shelbey too busy to watch three more kids for a few hours. And when I returned from the appointments she would let me cry because again it was a failed month.
Then she said "I'll do it. I'll carry your baby. Let me do it."
Paul and I prayed, we cried, we talked and prayed some more. We wondered if surrogacy was the route we should take? Should we allow my body a break from the hormones and stresses of infertility treatments, as well as giving our hearts and minds some credence to hope and to shift focus and spend our time and energy on a route that is so different? Could we feel like parents when the baby came if it hadn't grown in me? Would people call Shelbey "the real mom" and not me? Do I have to adopt my baby? Will the baby like Shelbey more? Is it even a possibility? Does this mean I will never carry a child? We talked with Shelbey to determine how serious she was. Her offer was not anything but sincere. We learned her body has none of the issues mine has. She is healthy and has great chances of successful pregnancies.
So that's where we are. On our way to becoming parents and and aunt. Today, we are 13 weeks closer to earning the titles of "mom," "dad," and "aunt." It is seriously the most incredible feeling and knowing there are so many people praying for us and "Small Fry" makes this journey unbelievably exciting. It's not "normal," but it is OUR blessed journey.
images by Life and Blessings Photography