Finally, I'm a Mother

Two years after surrogacy, one woman realizes it doesn't matter how she became a mother, just that she is one

by Adena Halpern
becoming a mother illustration
Photograph: Justin Fantl

The thing I remember most is the quiet. My house was very quiet, when there should have been a toddler on the floor screaming for a juice box. I felt like a mother, only childless. I remember saying that to people, and they would look at me with sadness, which made me feel better.

We started trying to have a baby on the night of August 26, 2007, our wedding night. By the next morning, I was positive I was pregnant. I was shocked when I wasn’t. As the months rolled by, sex with my husband went from every-day newlywed bliss to every freaking day; at least let me watch Jon Stewart while we’re doing it. Each time I got pregnant, I lost the embryo. This led me to my home away from home: the fertility clinic. Frankly, I got used to the shots that burned. I got used to the black-and-blue marks on my stomach and arms that made me look like a junkie with very bad aim. In those years, more men saw my privates than ever had when I was single. My husband became so used to giving sperm samples, he could have done it in the middle of a mall.

I got pregnant every time and miscarried every time. My body was rejecting pregnancy.

On my darkest days, I imagined a bunch of children in heaven yet to be born saying, “I don’t want to go live with them.” And I would try to reason with them and say, “We own our own home, and we have no debt. You would get everything you ever wanted—toys, kisses, private school!”

My doctor suggested surrogacy. Surrogacy? That was for celebrities and socialites who didn’t want to get fat. So we looked into adoption. Turns out, they don’t just hand you a baby. To us, it was simply another road that wasn’t any easier and offered no guarantee. In the end, we went with surrogacy.

The woman who carried my son came to us through an agency. She is the bravest, most beautiful woman I’ve ever known. Still, I felt as if I were trapped in The Handmaid’s Tale. I stood over her as the doctor implanted my son’s embryo into her uterus. It was obscenely uncomfortable. But if I was going to have a baby, this was how it would have to be.

It’s odd to think back on all of this. I guess it’s like childbirth: I don’t remember the pain anymore. On December 12, 2011, our son, Samson, was born. He’s named Samson because of all the times we tried and failed; he was the strong one who made it through. I held one of the surrogate’s legs as I watched him come into this world. I cut the cord.

I know now that even when I was going through years of hoping to be a mother, I never fully grasped what it meant. Being a mother is giving every bit of yourself, physically and emotionally. And then giving more.

I am so proud of my boy, that he’s my son, that I have the honor of raising him. I am thankful every day for my surrogate. I am thankful for all the years I tried to have a baby. To know my son, I would do it all over again.

Every so often, some moron will say, “You’re so lucky; you did it the easy way.” That comment always bothers me and makes me want to launch into my sad saga, but then I think, Screw it.

For four and a half years of my life, I felt isolated and alone in a quiet house because I could not achieve what everyone around me seemed to do with ease. Two years after my son was born, it still gives me a thrill to be able to relate to another woman with bags under her eyes. It makes absolutely no difference how I got to be a mother. I am a mother. 

ADENA HALPERN is the author of four books, including The Ten Best Days of My Life and 29.

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First published in the November 2013 issue

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