By Natalia Pagden
“I did have some tiny deep fear that I wouldn’t have an instant connection with Violetta because I didn’t carry her.”
Well hello, Mamas!
Can you believe it has been 9 months since I last wrote to let you know that Violetta had arrived safely into the world? I can hardly believe how quickly the time has flown. I thought I would check in to let you know how we are all doing and give you a little insight into the next secret (well not so secret once this gets out) instalment of our surrogacy story.
Becoming a mama changed me. The moment Violetta came into my arms a calm and serenity washed over me. It was like nothing I had ever felt. If you have got to know me at all from my last article series you would know that those are not descriptors that would usually be chosen for me. But now, in the instance of mothering, they suit perfectly. Of course I am still my worrisome, frazzled self, however when it comes to my daughter and anything to do with her, everything just feels natural, easy and just as it should be. Perhaps the extreme lengths we had to go to in order to bring her into our lives has something to do with it. Who knows? But it’s lovely.
I did have some tiny deep fear that I wouldn’t have an instant connection with Violetta because I didn’t carry her. I was wrong. I was the first to hold her, to gaze into her eyes and from that moment, our bond was unshakable. I knew I was her mama, she knew I was her mama and the rest is history. Kerri-ann (my surrogate) and I spent the first night together in hospital and I just held my bub all night in awe and amazement. Kerri-ann slept and woke occasionally with tips on changing my first nappy or settling a cry. It was a very special and very different night for both of us as were the weeks and months to follow.
“I can more than imagine what an enormous thing it would be to carry a baby for someone else and then pass it over.”
I can more than imagine what an enormous thing it would be to carry a baby for someone else and then pass it over. I was there on the receiving end – I lived it. I think it is probably the greatest gift you can give someone and also probably the hardest thing you could do emotionally in any context as a woman. You have to be a kind, strong, selfless and compassionate person to do it. That’s Kerri-ann to a tee. When you go through the pre-approval process for surrogacy you have to have counselling and they encourage you to expect the surrogate to experience some feelings of loss post birth. They provide strategies to cope with this including a ‘hug attack’ where the surrogate can come and hug the baby to reduce the rush of hormones they are having after having been separated from the child they have carried. For although surrogates rationally know the baby isn’t theirs, it doesn’t stop the body from having a physiological response. I could sense that after the birth Kerri-ann did experience some of these feelings and Ash and I tried to remain as open as possible to helping her through the period. When she would visit Violetta the first few times after the birth she would have a rush of tears which I could tell were a mix of so many emotions – joy, pride, excitement, love, and a bit of pain too. Kerri-ann tells me time and again it is the best thing she’s ever done and doesn’t regret it for a second.
“I was a new mum, and my baby wasn’t legally mine.”
While Kerri-ann was experiencing her post birth emotions, I was also experiencing mine. I was a new mum, and my baby wasn’t legally mine. Although Violetta was in my arms from the moment she was born, the fact that my name wasn’t on her birth certificate and we had to do a lot of legal work to get it there plagued me. There were no problems with getting the work done. It just took time. I think that in conjunction with lack of sleep (any new mama can relate) and not fully understanding Kerri-‘s natural reaction to a post-birth surrogacy just made me a little bit on edge. Looking back in hindsight, it was all completely irrational. There was no problem. None. I was being a worry wart. I have been told that both mine and Kerri-ann’s reactions are both quite common for people in our situations. Had I my time over, I would calm down. Big time. Or try to at least.
Life carried on and things calmed down naturally. It was like Kerri-ann and I had been living one journey and had to untangle ourselves to go on different ones. We did and now the ebb and flow of our relationship has a new normal. And it’s perfect. Kerri returned to work and is busy as a bee and I am learning the ropes as a first time mama and loving every second. ‘Aunty Kerri’ and family are coming for lunch tomorrow. I have all their Christmas gifts wrapped in red and silver spotty paper ready to go under their tree (I am one organised mama!). We also communicate on Facebook most days and she is up to date on everything to do with Violetta and this next important project I have cooking (wait you have to read the whole story!)
Now while I have been loving every second of being a mama and found things very natural. Life has thrown us a few curve balls in some other departments. We (stupidly) decided to buy and sell when Violetta was 4 weeks old which meant open houses and viewings and a rushed sale and moving with a baby. After the move, to our dismay we were surprised with some major problems (I was even electrocuted) forcing us to move out… and in with my parents for a month! So after a month in limbo (it would be impolite to say hell), we finally came home and settled into the new place when Violetta was almost 7 months. We are now finally feeling like we have regained our equilibrium and I now call our home ‘baby central’ and enjoy inviting mamas and bubs to play on our big foam mats and in the ball pit we made for her. Through all this I have been told time and again how happy Violetta has remained and what a good job I have done with her through the mayhem and it has made me smile from ear to ear. She really has been my grounding force and my reason d’etre.
“It’s time for a little brother or sister!”
That’s right; hubby and I are looking to take this crazy trip all over again. No we are not mad, we are just madly in love parents, who can’t think of anything more important than doing everything in our power to provide a lifelong playmate for our daughter – someone to walk through life with. There’s no real news at this stage other than that. But I think that’s pretty newsworthy! When I have a who, what, when and where perhaps I’ll poke my head back in for another yap. Hope all you mamas are smiling because I am.