A surrogate is carrying our child, and the experience has involved more than we ever expected.
We decided to have a child in this way after my wife, Samantha, suffered through major pregnancy problems. Our first child passed away at birth at 26-weeks gestation, and my wife almost lost her life due to toxemia of pregnancy. After much consideration and consultation with other physicians, we decided to have another child. The doctors followed this pregnancy closely, but my wife again developed pre-eclampsia. Our daughter, Tara, is now 4 years old, but she still cannot walk or talk, possibly due to pregnancy complications. We always wanted several children, but we knew that my wife should not carry another child.
After considering many options, we decided to look into surrogacy, where another woman would carry our child. We found an attorney who specialized in surrogacy, and we interviewed several women who had expressed interest in becoming a surrogate. When we met the woman whom we later selected, we were impressed by her excitement over the prospect of helping us. She had carried several pregnancies to term with no complications.
Our priest had some concerns about conception taking place outside the womb, but he gave us his blessings as long as we agreed to give each embryo the best chance of life. The fertility procedure involved many injections for both my wife and the surrogate, and general anesthesia to retrieve the eggs from my wife. After a long month of preparation, two fertilized eggs were transferred into the surrogate.
Shortly thereafter, we were pregnant. We were thrilled! The first ultrasound several weeks later showed that both embryos had initially implanted in the uterus, but one had not survived. When it had pulled away, it left blood above the remaining embryo, which had attached very low and to the left. This blood in the uterus threatened the ongoing pregnancy.
Although we were worried about these complications, our journey reached an all-time low at 10-weeks gestation when the surrogate e-mailed us, saying the pregnancy was interfering with her lifestyle. She wanted to terminate the pregnancy. My wife and I were horrified. Samantha could not stop crying. We had just watched the video of our baby swimming around in the womb. Even the surrogate had heard the baby’s heartbeat. How could this woman kill our child? We called our attorney, hoping to get some sort of restraining order, but were told nothing could be done to stop her. The surrogacy statute in our state, and in most states, gives the surrogate the final decision on medical issues that involve her body. We believe the legislature did this to protect the unborn child — perhaps thinking that the biological parents might want to compel a surrogate to have an abortion after finding a genetic defect of some sort.
We called pro-life agencies seeking advice, and we begged and pleaded with the surrogate. We even tried to get her to see a counselor. Nothing helped. We called our priest and had everyone praying that God would wrap his arms around this child and protect it. After a few weeks, the surrogate stopped returning our calls. Her husband answered the phone one day and said his wife had been sleeping ever since her doctor’s appointment earlier in the day. We had always gone to appointments together, and we knew nothing about this one. Our greatest fears were confirmed when we received an apology letter from the surrogate, along with copies of her consent forms from the abortion clinic.
We were devastated. Our priest suggested that we name the child and possibly have a memorial service. We had buried our first child, Rachael, six years earlier, and we decided this child deserved the same dignity. In tears, we called the abortion clinic to obtain our child’s remains. The manager rudely informed us that even a surrogate had the right to an abortion and that only the surrogate could make such a request. Through our attorney, the surrogate agreed to cooperate, even though she thought our request was “weird.”
To our surprise, the surrogate called us later that day. We took her call only in hopes of burying our child. The surrogate informed us that she had returned to the abortion clinic for a follow-up appointment. The clinic called her back telling her she needed either to repeat the procedure or to see an obstetrician. The follow-up scan revealed that the abortionist had missed all or part of the pregnancy. The surrogate agreed to go to another doctor. My wife drove her to the obstetrician’s office the next day. Upon viewing the ultrasound, the doctor exclaimed, “They missed!”
Thinking he was vacuuming out the baby, the abortionist had suctioned out the blood that had initially threatened the pregnancy. Against all odds, our baby survived. God had protected our child, a modern-day miracle.
After the abortion procedure, the surrogate had nightmares of the baby crying, then her car engine blew out, her husband was bitten by a spider and her daughter suffered a serious infection. The surrogate said that God must really want her to have this child. The remainder of the pregnancy has presented other challenges, but, miraculously, our daughter will be born next week. My wife, myself and even the surrogate are ecstatic. All of our lives have been changed forever. Now we have to change some laws.
Michael P. is a radiation oncologist.