When the world learned Kim Kardashian West and her husband, Kanye West, are expecting a third child via surrogacy (it's a girl!), Kardashian West got a lot of judgment from internet commenters who accused the reality TV superstar of using surrogacy as "an easier" way to expand her family.
Her previous pregnancies with 4-year-old North and Saint, age one, were physically taxing, but Kardashian West recently revealed that surrogacy has been even harder, emotionally.
It's a truth that many who've made their families through surrogacy can relate to.
“You know, it is really different,” Kardashian West told Entertainment Tonight. “Anyone that says or thinks it is just the easy way out is just completely wrong. I think it is so much harder to go through it this way, because you are not really in control.”
The 37-year-old mom of two is expecting again through gestational surrogacy (meaning she and Kanye are both biological parents to the child), rather than traditional surrogacy (in which the surrogate is the baby's biological mother).
“Obviously you pick someone that you completely trust and that you have a good bond and relationship with, but it is still … knowing that I was able to carry my first two babies and not my baby now, it’s hard for me,” she said in the interview.
Kardashian West connected with her surrogate through an agency after doctors told the star a third pregnancy could be life-threatening. She suffered placenta accreta (a condition where the placenta is too firmly attached to the uterine wall) during the last two deliveries, and as she described in a blog post, the experience was harrowing.
"My doctor had to stick his entire arm in me and detach the placenta with his hand, scraping it away from my uterus with his fingernails," the star wrote. "My delivery was fairly easy, but then going through that—it was the most painful experience of my life!"
Kardashian West also has a history of preeclampsia, a rare condition marked by high blood pressure and signs of damage to organs. It can be life-threatening for both mother and baby.
Knowing her history and the risks, Kardashian West and her husband opted for surrogacy, but the star says not being the one to carry her baby has been very hard, and that she would have preferred to do it herself if she could.
It's a feeling other mothers who've experienced surrogacy can certainly understand.
Katie Welsh went to every prenatal appointment with her gestational surrogate, a friend and coworker, but as she told Chatelaine, the emotions weren't easy, even though the two women were very tight.
“One hundred percent, I felt like I was missing out. Barb would say, ‘Oh, the baby is kicking’ or ‘The baby has hiccups,’ and I’d put my hand on her belly. ‘Do you feel it? Do you feel it?’ And I didn’t. So I missed that. And I was sad knowing I’d never feel the baby inside of me.”
Not to mention worrying about the choices another person makes with her body while carrying your baby. As author Elly Teman notes in her book, Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self even when intended parents and surrogate mothers have agreements (like the legal one Kardashian Wests have with their surrogate) barring the surrogate from using hot tubs or hair dye, eating raw fish or drinking a lot of coffee, intended mothers tend to worry about these things.
For a mom who was able to micro-manage every aspect of her first two pregnancies, not having that same level of control has been challenging. “That inner struggle is kind of hard, but I am just rolling with it and it is what it is,” says Kardashian West.
Her highly public surrogate pregnancy illustrates just how hard building a family can be, whether you’re struggling with infertility, adoption challenges or other concerns. There’s really no “easy” way to become a mom. But it is always worth it.