It’s Because of Surrogacy That I Am A Mother

Becoming infertile at 27 was a double whammy on top of my cancer diagnosis. It was exactly when my husband and I were about to try for a family. We’d imagined having three or four little ones running around the backyard of a sweet little house we’d yet to purchase. Of course, I assumed I’d get pregnant easily, the old-fashioned way, then pop those babies out like candy. Never for a second did I envision what would really go down. Weeks after the biggest shock of my life I was lying on a table in a fertility clinic procedural room awaiting the ultrasound-guided needle that would remove 26 eggs from my hyper-stimulated ovaries. The eggs were fertilized, not after a romantic dinner with husby but in a petri dish by a reproductive embryologist. The embryos were whisked away and stored in a medical-grade freezer, a literal manifestation of the common adage, all eggs in one basket. 

After the brutal yet successful cancer treatments, we left the oncology ward behind and returned our focus to starting a family. We explored non-traditional options since my reproductive tract was no longer up for the job. Adoption was (and still is) a goal but it wasn’t the right time. With a freezer full of embryos we turned to surrogacy, a decision applauded by our friends and family who encouraged any path that might lead us to parenthood. With the help of an agency, we found a home for one of those chilled embryos. For 9+ months it took up occupancy inside the womb of an incredible volunteer. At the time, she was a total stranger to us and yet she committed her body to growing our family. She agreed to self-inject fertility medications, undergo numerous medical tests, put her travel plans— and her life— on hold while hoping, whole-heartedly, to become pregnant with our baby.

When things didn’t go as planned, she wept with us, helped us overcome loss, and picked us back up. She carried our baby as if it was her own and experienced birth over again, in all its pain and trauma. Her ultimate reward, she said, was the moment she returned our baby home. I am a mother today because of her beautiful gift. 

Through my work as a naturopathic doctor, I see many women who are struggling to conceive. I know intimately the hurdles they face and the isolation they feel since infertility is, for the most part, a silent waiting game. It takes courage to push through the unknown so whether we’re dealing with infertility or volunteering our bodies for someone else’s cause, I’m continually amazed and inspired by how we overcome insurmountable challenges in order to achieve our dreams. While every woman’s story is a little different the overarching theme remains the same: we are wildly tough. 

For more stories about infertility after cancer, click here.

Stephanie Sciuk is a guest blogger for Rethink Breast Cancer. She lives and works in Port Perry as a naturopathic doctor at The HealthSpace Collective. Outside of the clinic, she spends her time writing, teaching, and being a mom to her almost 2-year-old son. Apart from family, friends, and a 90 lbs golden retriever, her greatest loves are surfing, travelling, and tacos. You can learn more about Stephanie and her practice by following her on Instagram.

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