Recently, I had the opportunity to take my youngest to the beach for the very first time. He’s four and I hadn’t even thought about the fact that he’d never stepped foot on the sand until a friend asked as we were on our way. The realization that it was his first experience completely changed how I watched him as he explored the wonder that is the ocean. I paid careful attention to how he reacted to his discoveries.
What I learned from him, I decided, were lessons in bold exploration and self-discovery. I started to think about those lessons as they relate to this adventure of being a gestational surrogate. While this will not be the first time I will have been pregnant, there are many ‘firsts’ embedded in the experience, including being the first time I’ve known I was going to be pregnant ahead of time (both boys were very pleasant surprises). It’s also the first time that pregnancy is an external partnership, which seems like a strange way to think about it, and the first time it’s a clinical, rather than an organic, process.
As I sit with a signed contract now in hand, knowing the next steps will come quickly, I think about my 4-year-old on the beach, sand between his toes for the first time, and I’m grateful to him for the lessons on first experiences…
- Take a minute to learn your way around. – On the beach, I watched my son picking up the wet sand and tossing it around to see what happens. He was scouting out what had washed onshore and constantly looking back to stay oriented to where the towels were as we made our way down the beach. For me, as I enter this this journey, this looks like reading any and all articles I can get my hands on (great series here from NPR, by the way). It’s going page-by-page through the binder that tells me what’s to come. And it’s Google searches. Lots of Google searches. Getting grounded in what’s happening around us gives a sense of security that will be important as we navigate new adventures.
- Anticipation can drive you crazy and should be tempered with a reality check. Or chocolate. – The little one was excited when I told him we were heading to the beach, so much so that when he realized that we weren’t actually going to step foot on the beach the moment we arrived (at 9:30 pm – in a thunderstorm), things went south – quickly – to the kind of place where the only way back is to stop at the drugstore for Reese’s cups. For me, in this journey where the motto is, “hurry up and wait,” I decided to distance myself a bit during the waiting game. That was my reality check. I’ve had no control over when things will happen, or pretty much anything thus far, so engaging only long enough to ask or answer questions and do what was asked kept me from getting overwhelmed with anticipation. Okay, maybe that and chocolate.
- Being fearless, even just a little, eases hesitation. – My little one does everything with gusto. Watching him run out into the ocean for the first time was no different. Without hesitation, he set off to explore, never worried about where I was. It made me wonder when we lose that fearlessness. At what point do we start thinking about the “what if’s” and let them cloud the beauty of the “what is?” I am jumping into something that, even with a couple of past experiences in pregnancy, is completely unpredictable. It could be easy to get caught up in the “what if’s.” Instead, I think I’ll take a page from the little one’s book and do my best to leap with gusto into the unknown.