‘An overwhelming feeling came over me. I put my car in park and ran upstairs. After 20 seconds, a faint line appeared. Suddenly, I am bawling. I told myself to calm down.’

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“I was on my way to pick up my kids from school when an overwhelming feeling came over me. It was time to take the first step in doing what I had been thinking about doing for quite some time. I pulled up to their school, put my car in park, and did a quick Google search.

I clicked on the link and started to read. Everything in me told me to fill out the information. Within just a few minutes, my phone rang. My boys were about to be dismissed, so I didn’t answer it. Moments later, a text message came through from TJ. The owner of the surrogacy agency. She said I sounded like a great candidate and would love to work with me.

Within a couple days, I had my profile filled out and sent it to her. Almost instantly, she told me she had the perfect couple in mind for me and sent over their profiles. I read them. Several times. In my mind, I thought I would have an aha moment. But I didn’t have it with them and that made me nervous. So, I asked for more profiles. If I was going to do this, I needed to feel passionate about the couple I was doing this for.

I read several more profiles and none of them did much for me. I just kept coming back to the original couple TJ had originally told me about. There was something about the fact that TJ immediately thought of them for me, something in the intended mother’s eyes that spoke to me. My gut finally said to go with them!

A couple weeks later, we scheduled to meet them for dinner. I was a nervous wreck! What if they met me and didn’t like me? What if they didn’t think I was ‘the one’? Stacy (my wife) and I sat at the bar, waiting, for quite a while. Then, suddenly, they arrived.

The intended father walked right up to us. I hugged him and introduced myself. He went right into apologizing for being late and acted as if we had met before. My first impression of him was that he was hysterical! I loved his dry humor! The intended mom was outside, tending to their new puppy. Then, she walked in at a very fast pace. I stood up and she squeezed me so tight. I could feel the appreciation in her grasp. And I suddenly felt so warm inside.

About halfway into our dinner, I felt it. The aha moment I had been hoping to feel. They were absolutely ‘the ones’. I felt it with every part of my being. They were meant to be in my life all along and this is how they were being brought into it.

Time went on and the intended parents and I emailed here and there. Then we graduated from emails and moved onto text message university. I would let her know about upcoming appointments and we sent some pictures back and forth of our furry friends. It was a beautiful start.

I began hormones on August 3rd. Lupron. An injection alternated between right and left thighs and around my belly button. I did these myself and probably watched a hundred tutorial videos prior to starting these injections, which probably made it worse. I was so afraid I was going to mess it up. When I finally had to do it, I went into my bedroom all alone and made peace with what was about to happen. 1. 2. 3. POKE! And just like that, it was done. But I had to look at this needle every day I opened my medicine box to do my other meds. It haunted me. I just wanted ‘the day’ to come. The anticipation was killing me.

Courtesy of Laura Michelle

Beep, beep, beep. My alarm went off at 6:15am. It’s the morning of the evil stick. It’s a BIG day. I pack up and head to get checked in. When I arrive at the parking lot, there she is! The intended momma. There’s a huge smile on her face and instant leaking from my eyes. We hug and all is well. Here we go!

We get checked in and go for blood work. Next thing we know, we are being called back. We change into our super cute surgical attire and head over to the little area for my vitals. My blood pressure is high. 145/90. I realize in that moment I’m far more nervous than I realize. At about that time, a nurse comes in with a huge picture of the embryo (that has been completely genetically tested and frozen). There she is. It’s a girl! That ball of beauty is going to be transferred into my body and hopefully turn into a mini human being. Wowza!

It’s time. We stand up and walk into the room where this miracle is going to happen. I lay there, intended mom at my side. She asks to hold my hand. As we sit there, hand in hand, the embryo is on the monitor. Mind. Blown. Suddenly, a nurse comes through the side door holding a catheter that is holding the little miracle. My eyes start to leak again. I know 200% without a doubt, I am exactly where I am meant to be in this moment.

I know it may sound crazy, but I am super attuned to my body. Nine days later, around 5pm, I felt that little miracle make her home. My gut told me we were pregnant. My original plan was to not test. I didn’t want to chance it coming up negative because it would be devastating. However, as more days and spooky Google searches went by, I took myself to Target and tossed a box of magic tests into my cart.

I went home, ran upstairs, took the test, and put on a three-minute timer. After about 20 seconds, a very faint line appeared. THE line. OMG. I told myself to calm down. Wait the 3 full minutes as directed, as if the line was going to disappear or something. The timer went off. Line was still there. WE WERE PREGNANT!  I patted my belly and told that little miracle, ‘You did it! Well done!’ I stared at that magic stick all day.

And just like that, the morning sickness kicked in. I don’t know why they call it that. It lasts all day long. Like, seriously. But I told myself ‘Suck it up, buttercup. The show must go on!’ Now, let’s fast forward to the ultrasound.

Lights go out, magic wand goes in, and there she is! This tiny little miracle, the size of an apple seed. The nurse zooms in closer and there it is. The tiny little flicker of progress. The heartbeat! I just couldn’t get over how amazing the whole reproductive thing was. Only weeks ago we transferred a ball of cells into my uterus, and now there is this tiny little human in the making with a heartbeat. I mean, come on! That’s amazing!

And just like that.. the appointment is over. The intended parents and I head to Starbucks for some WiFi and a warm beverage. The intended mom and I reminisce about reading each other’s profiles for the first time and everything that lead to that point for us both. She says they feel like they won the jackpot with me. I will never (ever ever) forget her saying that. I feel exactly the same.

At our 7-week appointment, morning sickness is kicking my butt. The tiny human has DOUBLED in size. No wonder I feel nauseous. She has been busy in there. Last week it was pretty much all heartbeat and the yolk sack was bigger than the baby. Today, however, she is much bigger than the yolk sack. ‘Good job, little surrobaby!’

After this, the moments seem to fly by. I feel the tiny human move. She’s saying, ‘Yep, I’m here and I’m okay.’ This makes my heart swell up like a balloon! Christmas rolls around. I give and get gifts, but I am carrying the absolute BEST gift ever this year! In the blink of an eye, it’s already Mother’s Day. The coolest one by far! I get to celebrate being a mom to my two absolutely amazing boys, but I get to celebrate the fact that I am helping make someone else a mom. We are two weeks away from the grand finale of this journey.

Courtesy of Laura Michelle

Here we are… at the end of this journey. I am sad it’s coming to an end and try to savor this phase despite the uncomfortable back pain, extreme indigestion, and this surrobaby doing Kung Fu in my belly.

Courtesy of Laura Michelle

Then, IT happens.

My pants are soaked. I quickly take them off and grab a towel to catch any more liquid that comes out while I run to my bedroom to get dry pants. I get halfway there and a bigger gush happens. The water works keep flowing! I yell down to Stacy, ‘My water is breaking!’ Drum roll. Bring on the contractions!

Courtesy of Laura Michelle

6 centimeters. 9. Then 10. 1. 2. 3. PUSH! The bed comes apart, gloves go on. Five pushes later and there she was! This absolutely amazing miracle that we first saw on a printed piece of paper as a ball of cells is now this perfect little human. I am bawling. The intended parents are bawling. The nurses are bawling. Suddenly, the baby starts to join the cry fest and she shows off her mighty lungs with that cry you wait so long to hear. I watch the intended parents hold their baby for the first time and I can’t hold back the tears. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

Courtesy of Laura Michelle
Courtesy of Laura Michelle

That night, my boys got to meet the who they watched grow inside me for the past 9 months. I could see how nervous they were as they walked through the door. I greeted them with a huge smile. I pointed over to the baby’s little hospital cart and said, ‘Meet Ella.’ Their faces lit up. Up until now, we have always called her ‘Surro’. As we sat, I watched the boys keep looking over at Ella, and also looking at me in the hospital bed. They watched the intended parents completely in love with this little human that I helped create. When they left, they gave me even bigger hugs. That day, I think they realized how big this was. That I was part of something so much bigger than they ever realized.

The End. Well, kinda.

The hardest part of this journey wasn’t during, but after. I had to say goodbye to that little miracle we worked so hard to make possible. After months of hormones, countless appointments, and so many special times with the intended mom, the grand finale happened. After hours of labor, Ella arrived, screaming that beautiful sound you crave to hear. The moment I had waited over a year for. To see these beautiful people finally meet their child. For them to become the one thing I personally cherish being the most: a parent.

I shared a room with the parents the past couple of days during recovery. That was not planned. They were supposed to have a room to themselves where they could bond with the baby, but the baby unit became full and they were not able to accommodate them. I offered for them to shack up with me in my room. They brought in reclining chairs and we had a big sleepover! As amazing as it was, it was also incredibly hard.

The hardest part began around our 2am feeding. Reality hit me as I laid there in the dark with her. Our time was coming to an end. As I gave her back to her mom till the next feeding, my eyes began to flood with fear of what I thought I had prepared myself. This was far deeper than I could ever imagine.

At our 5am feeding, I said goodbye to her silently as she fed. I told her how much I loved her in my own way and how privileged I felt to have brought her into this world for her mom and dad. That it was going to take them a while to get this whole parenting thing down but that they would. We all do when we become parents. I told her I was struggling watching them learn, but I had to let them learn on their own as I was allowed to do myself when I first became a mom. I told her to be patient with them. I told her my time with her had made an impact on my life forever and in the most cherished way possible. That our time was not over, just this part of the journey. That I look forward to coming to visit her soon and was so thrilled for her to have the parents she does. I handed her back to mommy after feeding/story time was over and silently cried myself to sleep.

The rest of the morning was so nice. Mom let me pretty much hold her all morning and soak up all the cuddles I could. Then it came time for discharge. The moment the nurse walked in with those papers and asked them to get her car seat ready was the moment I became an emotional ball of mess! I went straight to the bathroom and sobbed in silence. Then as she started to cry as they put her in the seat, I sobbed even harder.

After carrying a child for 9 months, you become ridiculously protective of these little humans, even when they aren’t yours. I pulled myself together, or so I thought I had, walked back out to the room and pretty much avoided eye contact. I tried to stay strong for the new mom, she was struggling herself as it was, with her new little one screaming in that car seat, but I couldn’t control it. These hormones suck, you know!

Now she sees me a mess, now she is a mess, now the room is a wet mess! We gather our things and start the walk down to the dreaded exit of the hospital. The road only has two paths and we are not on the same one. I didn’t look at her again after we walked out of those doors. The mom asked me if I wanted to say goodbye. I told her I couldn’t but that I had in my own way already. She told me I could come visit her whenever I want. I obviously want to see her whenever I can but I know myself and I know I need to let myself heal emotionally before I see her again. In the meantime, I will pump my liquid gold and send it to her to continue to show her how much I adore her. I will look forward to our weekend trip to stay with her and her family in July and maybe I will see her before that, if I think I can.

Courtesy of Laura Michelle

If I could go back, would I still choose to have done this? WITH EVERY BONE IN MY BODY, YES! It just turned out that the most amazing thing I have ever done with my life, also turned out to be the hardest, and that is ok. It’s ok to feel what I feel. I am okay with it. Love is the most precious thing we can give to someone. All along I thought I was changing someone else’s life. In the end, mine was equally changed and in a way I could never have imagined. I am forever changed IN A GOOD WAY by this experience and feel so privileged to have been a part of this experience.

Three weeks ago, today, we walked out of those hospital doors. If you would have told me that today things would be better, that I would feel so much more okay than I did three weeks ago, I would not have believed you. But the saying ‘time heals’ is very true. All those people who were afraid that nursing the baby would make things harder were right. I never could have prepared myself for what that was going to do to me. I ask myself a lot, ‘If you could go back, would you have offered to nurse her?’ To be honest, I really struggle with that question. I think it would have been a lot easier in the end to not have nursed her. To have had my own room, to have disconnected from her right after birth. But would I have preferred that? I don’t think so. I think it was a big part of my journey. A part that was necessary. I think I needed to feel what I did to have the full experience in all of this.

Today, I feel like a totally different person. I am pumping my liquid gold every two hours and shipping it off to Ella and it means the world to me that I am able to do this. I am amazed at the luck I am having with pumping. I did not have this kind of luck with my boys. It’s a way of me still feeling connected to her. A way of still feeling needed by her. No, I don’t think of her as mine. She isn’t mine. She is just this absolutely super important person to me that I will always cherish.

I get frequent pictures of her and see how my milk is keeping her so healthy and I see how content she is with her family and it really just makes my heart feel so full. I am the person that made this family possible and there are absolutely no words to describe what that means to me. Her mom refers to me as Auntie Laura, and fully intends on always being completely honest with her about how she came into this world. I fully believe I will always have a special bond with her and she will always be a part of my life. Love… it really is all that matters.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Laura Michelle of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more powerful stories about surrogacy:

‘We needed a surrogate and she was 60 years old. My mother-in-law said, ‘Oh, I love being pregnant!’ We laughed at the unrealistic gesture. She couldn’t have a baby, could she?’

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