My birth story: Surrogacy made me a mother

And then one day, the doubt lifted. I realized that my baby deserves a warm and fuzzy birth story.

surrogacy birth

When my son was two months old, I signed up for a baby massage course. It was the final class of the term when the class instructor said in a very soft, anticipatory voice that it was time for all of the moms to share their birth stories. I listened as each mama told their story about water births and hypnobirthing.

Then, it was my turn to share.

Up until this point, I hadn't seen my story as any different from the other new moms. I was blissfully living in the new baby bubble of happiness. I doted over my son in the same way all of the other moms did. I also had just enough belly fat to make me look like maybe I had actually recently given birth to this beautiful boy.


How was anyone supposed to know that my beautiful baby boy was born via surrogate?

I did not have the experience of being pregnant with my baby. I didn't, or so I thought, have a beautiful, warm and fuzzy birth story to share with this circle of women.

As I drove home from the class, I found myself questioning my motherhood. I suddenly found myself feeling like an outsider to this elite society of mommies that I desperately tried to be a part of.

Was I a "real" mother?

Would I ever fit into this mom club?

I allowed these questions to haunt me for a whole year. These doubts stole away time from the amazing post-baby bliss that I was supposed to be experiencing.

And then one day, the doubt lifted. I realized that my baby deserves a warm and fuzzy birth story. After all, this was the happiest day of our lives. I decided to own my story and be proud of it.

My surrogacy birth story

Our birth story started with an email on a Friday afternoon. Our surrogate had just been in for a check-up, and it was determined that she would be having a C-section in 48 hours—four weeks prematurely.

Our surrogate lived in Tbilisi, Georgia, and we lived in Dubai! The panic set in almost immediately. We needed to book the flights and hotel, gather all of the hundreds of legal documents needed for the daunting process of surrogacy, and pack for an undetermined length of stay in a foreign country. We barely had a second to stop and enjoy the excitement of knowing that we would get to meet our son in two days.

As we boarded the flight, we were nervous, to say the least. We had put blind faith in our surrogacy agency, and at the end of the day, we had no real proof that our baby was coming and that this was real. Embarrassingly enough, we hadn't even had an actual phone conversation with the agency. All communication had been through email up until this point. Logical people would say that this was not a good idea. Oddly enough, my husband and I consider ourselves extremely logical people. But I can say that as an infertility survivor, all that logic goes flying out the window when you desperately want to have a baby but can't.

We landed at the Tbilisi airport around 2:15 pm. I turned my cell phone off of airplane mode and immediately opened my text messages.

There it was, the message we had been waiting for. Our baby boy was here!

We were given the hospital's address and were told to go there immediately to meet him. I realize this all sounds completely wild, but we went with it. We hailed a taxi and somehow managed to explain to the non-English speaking driver where we needed to go.

As we pulled up to the hospital, I felt as if I was dreaming. There were two possible polar opposite outcomes that would happen within the next minutes—one ending with extreme happiness and one ending with complete devastation.

My husband was as solid as a rock, even though I knew that there was no humanly way possible for him to not be full of anxiety inside. We approached the information desk, gave them our names, and settled in for the longest 10-minute wait of our lives. A nurse then approached us, gave us scrubs to put on, and led us to an elevator. Side note: My husband has never looked as handsome as he did in those scrubs.

Was this really happening? Were we about to meet our baby?

Meeting our baby boy for the first time

The elevator door opened, and we were led to a waiting area in the middle of the maternity ward. The wait was short, maybe five minutes. And then, a smiling, friendly-faced nurse approached us and held a baby up. "This is your baby," she said.

I can't actually remember who held him first. All I remember was complete and utter shock that this was real. We spent the next 20 minutes of allowed visitation, staring at him and soaking in every inch of him.

I immediately felt like his mother in every sense of the word. I felt the deepest love that I could ever imagine. I also have never loved my husband more than I did this moment.

We spent the next five days going back and forth from our hotel to the hospital for the 20-minute visitation sessions. It was a cold and snowy day when we left the hospital to bring him back to our temporary home at the Marriott. Once inside the safety of our hotel room, I collapsed onto the bed. It was at this moment that I finally allowed myself to feel safe and to accept for the first time that this had happened and that I was actually his mother. I consider this the definitive moment that the fog lifted, and I actually allowed myself the feeling of joy instead of dread and anxiety.

Life would never be the same, and we would never be happier than in this moment as a family, in a foreign country, lying on a Marriott king size bed.

I regret the time that I allowed myself to doubt my worthiness as a mother. It took away moments that I can never get back. But if I have learned one thing, it would be to own with pride my unique birth story and to scream it at the top of my lungs to anyone who will listen.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

Keep reading Show less

11 products to help parents survive the 4-month sleep regression 😴

So you—and baby—can start getting more rest.

Ah, the 4-month sleep regression...unlike, say, your baby's first solid food or her first steps, the 4-month sleep regression isn't a milestone that many parents typically look forward to. Whether you're currently in the midst of the madness or just anticipating what might be ahead, odds are you have some questions—and some worries—about this much talked-about sleep (or lack thereof) phase.

But guess what, mama? The news is good! According to experts, sleep regressions aren't really a thing; they're more like transitions. And they're actually a good thing—they mean your baby is growing, changing, developing, + finding new ways to interact with the world around them.

Keep reading Show less