Want to hear something gross?
Becoming a birthmother flipped a switch in my head that is making my pregnancy more complicated. I read a lot of blogs by adoptive and prospective adoptive parents, and I feel really connected to some of these women and their stories. And when things go wrong for them, and the process seems broken, there’s this little voice in my head that says “Maybe I should have a baby for her.” That’s really not healthy, and it would screw me up in a big way to do something like that—but that impulse exists, the thought that maybe that’s what I’m supposed to do. I mean, I can have babies. It’s at times like this that I feel sort of worried and—what is the word—I feel like I’m in a small space. Not claustrophobic, exactly, but constrained in kind of a sad-but-not-undeserved way. I do feel lucky to have Mr. Book around to put the kibosh on any “Perhaps we should make babies for nice people who want them” plans.
I feel like this is an easy segue into surrogacy, but I’m somewhat wary of expressing my views here, because I don’t want to offend anyone. One of the things about me is that I often hold strong abstract opinions that I am really not using to think badly of other people—but it doesn’t come out sounding that way. My official position on surrogacy is the same as my position on sex work: I think that it should be legal, but I don’t want anyone to do it. That said, I recognize that I’m saying that as a person who has never found herself trying to decide between sex work to pay rent or being evicted—there’s a certain amount of idealism in my belief. Similarly, while I don’t know that I believe in birth parent privilege, I certainly understand that I have fertile person privilege; I read a lot of adoption blogs, and I tend to go back and read them from the beginning, which means reading a number of infertility blogs that turn into adoption blogs. That has certainly made me more self-conscious about what it means that I can apparently, at this point in my life, decide to get pregnant and then make that happen. I’ve read women talking about resenting every pregnant woman, sometimes to extent that I find a bit shocking, but again—that shock is coming from a person who will probably not end up going through any ART.
There was a period of time, while I was matched with Ruth and Nora and then again last year, where I thought about doing surrogacy. I apparently make healthy children without too much trouble, and while I don’t exactly enjoy pregnancy, my last was uncomplicated (physically, anyway) and there were things about it that I liked very much. And the money would be huge for us. But. . . . I read a surrogacy story in the New York Times Magazine some time ago (I want to say while I was pregnant with Cricket, but that might be my mind trying to make poetry), and it was a positive story, working-class mother of several serving as surrogate for older, wealthier couple. And everyone in the story was positive and friendly, and that’s cool, but on the other hand, the surrogate needed the money in order to feed her family, so she was renting out her body. I roll my eyes at anti-adoption blog posts claiming that the rich want to use the poor as broodmares, but surrogacy does make me flinch a bit—at least in part because it would be incredibly emotionally destructive for me. And yet, if Ruth and Nora asked, I would definitely need my husband to talk me down.