• Kathleen gregory

Born As An Angel-A Surrogate's Story

Updated: Jan 25, 2019

It is greater to love hard, than to never love at all. This rings true when I think of my journey as a surrogate. It's been 2 years since my last surrogacy journey and a life-changing story.

pregnant surrogate taking selfie in Costa Mesa, bug and roo photography

As a mother of 2 beautiful boys, I wanted to do nothing more than to give back and help a family with the gift of parenthood. After multiple miscarriages and fertility treatments, we were pregnant. As this little girl was growing inside me, I couldn't help but remember how I felt when I was pregnant with my little boys. What a privilege it was to deliver a beautiful healthy full-term baby to such a deserving family. After one year postpartum, the decision to carry again was so easy.

The second family that I got to carry for was a set of daddies that were so anxious to start their own family. From the moment, I met them, I knew they were going to be great dads. We had a connection right away, and I couldn’t wait to begin this journey with them. I knew they had so much love to give. 

Right after meeting, we were ready to get the process started, and a little boy and little girl waiting to be implanted via IVF. The anticipation of what was to come, was high. For 11 days after transfer, we were all on pins and needles, just waiting to see if I was pregnant. On that 11th day, I got the positive test back. We all were beyond excited about the news and couldn’t wait to share. This was the news the intended parents had been waiting for and hoping for. 

As each week passed, I would send them pictures of the growth of the baby, and even videos of their little peanut. At about 2 weeks into my pregnancy, the doctor had noticed some bleeding right outside the placenta. It was nothing to worry about, though it is never fun to hear the news of bleeding. For the next 6 weeks, I was to lay low and allow the bleeding to subside. 

As the bleeding started to disappear, I passed my 12-week mark. I thought we were in the safe zone. I was released from the fertility clinic and not a day later I was in the emergency room with massive bleeding.

I rushed to the hospital alone because my husband had to stay home with our kids. Crying the whole way there and no one to hold my hand. I didn’t want anyone near me unless it was my husband or one of the dads. There I laid for 5 hours in the emergency room waiting for an ultrasound.

When they finally took me back for the ultrasound, they found that the bleeding didn’t subside. It was just hidden and because of the baby getting bigger, it got pushed out. They called it a threatened miscarriage, or a subchorionic hematoma. Which resulted in my placenta slightly detached from my uterus and causing inflammation. The baby was moving and his heartbeat was great. A sigh of relief. Even with the relief of the baby moving, I was still scared and nervous. 

As months passed after the scare at the hospital, I was starting to feel better and loved being pregnant. He was moving around. We went to a lot of ultrasounds to track his growth and to watch the bleeding go away. I loved watching him move around, see his little face, and watch this little miracle in my belly. He was my belly buddy, everyone’s belly buddy.

My son and I would spend evenings reading and talking to him. Then, he would lay his head on my belly and listen to the baby move around. My son would want to come to all the ultrasounds, just so he could see the baby and listen to his heartbeat. 

This baby loved when I would eat and drink. It was like he would jump in the womb every time. I knew that he would love eggs and sausage. I craved it all the time. 

On Friday morning, October 27th, 22 weeks and 5 days pregnant, I woke up like every other morning. I ate my eggs and got ready to leave the house. I arrived at the office feeling great. The baby was moving around and as active as can be. I sent a belly picture to the intended fathers, and an hour later I felt the need to go to the bathroom. I walked into the hall and then felt a gush of fluid run down my pants.

As I sat in the bathroom stall, there was a pool of water that had soaked my pants. I sat there crying, knowing what had just happened. I didn’t know how to pull myself together enough to walk back in, get my keys and go to the hospital. 

Ocean view through window at Hoag hospital during labor and delivery-Bug and Roo Photography-Birth Photographer, Newport Beach, Orange County

Upon arrival at the hospital, it was found that my water had broken and there was nothing that could be done. We then had to get ahold of the intended parents to let them know what had happened. Being 6 hours away, they would have had to fly down or drive the 6 hours.

The high-risk doctor came in, to let us know our options and the risks. On a 3-way conference call, there I laid with the intended parents and the doctor, as he told us the terrible news. Because of the week that my water broke, there was a risk of infection and there was no steroid that could be given to help the baby grow. Even if the baby did survive, there would be great odds of disabilities, but the chance of my body not going into labor within the next 48 hours, was slim to none. My heart shattered as were the parents. It was now that the parents had to make a very difficult decision. Were going to have me lay in the hospital until my body went into labor on its own, which in turn put me at a high risk of infection….or induce labor? 

This was something that we were not ready for. The water kept coming and wouldn’t stop. With all the fluid that I had lost, it was decided that they were going to induce labor. My body was not going into labor on its own, and the longer I sat the more I was in danger, as well as the baby. I wasn’t ready to induce right away and wanted to see if my body would start contracting on its own. 

That night, before I went to sleep I had the nurse put the belly band on my stomach so I could hear his heartbeat. It was the best song I could have heard. He did a dance, kicking his legs, and his heartbeat was as strong as ever. I couldn’t think about the outcome of what was going to be. 

The next morning, I woke up still anxious about what was going to happen. I hadn’t talked to the intended parents since the day I came into the hospital and unsure of when they were going to arrive. I knew that when this baby was born, he deserved skin to skin contact and a name. Hours leading up to the delivery I picked out his blanket, his hat, and a teddy bear to lay by him. I gave him a name, so when he came out, he would be called by name. The focus for me that morning was the baby and me.

Still born baby hat and blanket after baby born at 23 weeks at Hoag hospital-Bug and Roo Photography-Birth and bereavement photographer- Newport Beach, Orange County

At 9:57 a.m., October 30th, with one push this tiny little baby came. I asked if he was alive as the doctor caught him. He wasn’t! He was stillborn. No heartbeat! He was the color of red and purple and he was laid on my stomach. They quickly wiped him down, unbuttoned my gown and laid him on my chest. I look down and I see a perfect little baby. He was perfect in every single way. From his nose, to his little fingers and his toes. He looked like he was sleeping angel. I couldn’t stop staring at him and crying. He was perfect on the outside, but inside just wasn’t ready. 

23 week old stillborn holding mom's finger at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach-Bug and Roo Photography-Birth and bereavement photographer-Orange County

My pastor came into the room and blessed him soon after the delivery. That baby was and is loved. I held and cuddle him for 6 hours until the dad arrived to the hospital. His dad had a private room to spend time with him. I didn’t get to see the dad at all, but I was so glad that he came to see the precious little angel. At that point, I did find out what his dads' named him, but how lucky that this little boy got 2 names. 

I know that no matter if this baby was mine biologically or not, I loved him. I carried him for 5 months. I knew when he slept, and I knew when he was awake. I sang to him and I talked to him.

Mom kissing baby after delivering a stillborn at 23 weeks at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach-Bug and Roo Photography-Birth and Bereavement Photographer-Orange County

But..... How do you move forward in the healing process?

Here are some things that I helped me:

letter of comfort- Bug and Roo Photography- Birth Photographer-Costa Mesa, Orange County

Writing- I found peace in writing. It was a place that I could really allow everything to flow.

Allow yourself to write what you are feeling and experiencing. This is part of your journey and this a place where you don't have to worry about being judged. This is just for you and anyone you want to share it with.

Have a friend-It's in a moment like this that I found who was there for the long haul. Having a tribe made such an impact when I was healing (and continue to heal) You have people that deeply care for you. Have a close friend or two that you can share your feelings to and know that they will listen.

Donating-I knew that my body was going to go into postpartum and start producing milk. In honor of my "belly buddy", I pumped and donated my milk to milk banks that helped babies in NICU. For 15 months I pumped and donated 11,000 ounces. Knowing that this milk was helping babies in need, helped me work through my own grief.

Pumping and donating may be a way that you can honor your little baby while saving lives.

Click this article to find out more about this

Write a letter- I wanted to let the parents, my husband, and the baby know how much I loved them and how I felt. Never underestimate the power of a love letter. It is powerful for you and for them.

Support- It took me a long time to realize that I couldn't do this all alone. It was about nine months later that I realized I needed help and I found the most amazing organization that is designed to help bereaved mothers.

If you are local to Orange County, you can check out forever footprints. It's a wonderful organization founded by two mothers that know what it is like to go through this healing journey.

find your Joy- After this devastating event in my life, I found myself not wanting to get out of bed and had a hard time finding joy. I had two boys at home that needed me... I had to find something that brought my joy again. I had to find me again!!! After much soul searching, I found it. It was photography. I remember how much I loved taking pictures and how I light up everytime I talked about it. This is where birth photography came into my world. Birth Photography has been so therapeutic and life changing for me. Every time I go to a birth, I think of this little guy that is watching over me and my clients.

It is ok for you to find YOU again. Be creative. Laugh. Smile. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it will come. Find your joy and do what you love in honor of your Angel.

Strength Coffee Cup after infant loss-bug and roo photography-birth photographer-costa mesa orange county


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