‘I was pushing while nurses were rushing to break down the bed, my husband and a soon-to-be dad on each side, and a soon-to-be mom gloving up to help deliver HER baby.’

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“I had my first child when I was 22 years old and can easily say I was not prepared for the emotions that would follow. I wish I could put into words the euphoric happiness and love that filled my being when she graced my world. The feeling you get when you hold your child in your arms for the first time. The feeling that rushes through your entire being when you realize you are a parent, and you are that baby’s parent forever and nothing can ever change that. It was merely moments after her birth I thought to myself ‘I would totally do that again.’ And with that, I believe, the first tiny seed of surrogacy was planted within me.

There was never a hesitation in my mind when the subject of surrogacy was brought up. It was always an immediate ‘I’d do that!’ response whenever it was mentioned, and while I haven’t experienced any of these things in my own personal life, I have seen firsthand, great friends and incredible people struggle through infertility and life threatening pregnancy related issues. It is heart shattering to say the least, and I felt compelled to do more. In February of 2017, after having 4 kids of my own, I was ready to actively pursue being a surrogate. Tons of research later, reading blogs and joining surrogacy related Facebook groups, I was ready to sign up with an agency and put my profile out there for future parents.

Jillian Goulding Photography

I knew I wanted relatively close intended parents (IPs) so they could be as much a part of pregnancy as they wanted to be, only I didn’t know at the time just how close they would actually be. I filled out my profile, wrote a letter to my future intended parents and sat back and waited for a match. Just a couple days later I got a phone call saying there was a possible match, and to my surprise, they lived in the same city I did. It felt like fate. They loved my profile and I also loved theirs. Reading their story and what brought them to choose surrogacy touched my heart in more ways than one and I instantly knew they were a match for me.

On the morning of mine and husband’s 8-year wedding anniversary, already a special day, we, future mom, dad, my husband and I, met at our local Starbucks for what I thought would be maybe a short 30 minute meet and greet coffee date. That 30 minutes quickly turned into 2 hours of talking between the 4 of us. It felt like we were longtime friends, not strangers just minutes prior. Before we were even finished chatting, I said yes to them and more importantly, they said yes to me and we started our journey together.

On January 5th, 2018, in a Northern CA IVF clinic, we transferred two 5-day embryos and the 2 week wait for a bloodwork pregnancy confirmation began.

Courtesy of Stephanie Traylor

Those two weeks seemed to last forever. I would have daily messages back and forth with mom to talk about all things but mostly the common question of ‘do you feel any different?’ in hopes there would be a sign the embryos took. While they originally wanted to wait for the bloodwork confirmation, around 8 days post transfer, mom caved and had me take a pregnancy test. Sure enough, it was positive and I wasted no time at all making a sweet letter board announcement to send to them.

Courtesy of Stephanie Traylor

At 6 weeks we had our first ultrasound appointment and I laid on the bed with mom holding my hand, and dad filming the TV screen – where on the ultrasound machine they saw their baby for the first time, and heard the sweet sound of her racing heartbeat. This was the first of countless happy tears that were shed. Many more appointments were to follow and they were present at every single one of them. We found out I was carrying a daughter for them at 13 weeks and took announcement photos around 14. It was their bun in my oven and we had a blast as they dressed up like bakers and I as an oven costume. It was silly but oh so special.

Channa Vance
Channa Vance
Channa Vance

Time seemed to fly by! Luckily I had an easy pregnancy and before I knew it we were in the 3rd trimester. I would often ask them if it was going as quick for them as it was for me, but they didn’t feel the same. And rightfully so! I remember feeling those same emotions every time I was waiting for my babies to be born and those weeks didn’t fly by nearly fast enough.

But in the proverbial blink of an eye, it was time. It was time for a husband and wife to become a mom and dad. The labor was long, but the delivery was a whirlwind.

Jillian Goulding Photography
Jillian Goulding Photography

After a long time where my emotions were beginning to break, the doctor decided to break my water in hopes to really get things moving. Baby had a huge sac blocking her head from descending, so he was very optimistic that breaking the water would finally allow her to move down and I could fully dilate. But unfortunately, at 4:30 p.m. we were still in the same situation as earlier. His exact words to me were ‘I’m going to be honest, I’m a little disappointed.’ My reply was, ‘well, I’m A LOT disappointed.’

At 5 p.m. the doctor decided to manually turn baby girl’s head. She was presenting OP and her head was blocking her way down. With one hand grabbing baby’s head and other hand on my abdomen, he swiftly turned her, pushed down on her through my stomach and said ‘STAY!’ I was rolled into my side, peanut ball placed between my legs, pit turned up to 10 and everyone praying this would be the magic trick. And sure enough, it was. I almost instantly could feel the pressure to push. Guys, I dilated from 5-10 cm in 20 MINUTES.

Jillian Goulding Photography

I told the nurse I think she needs to check me and she was instantly yelling for doctor to come in. This was 5:20 p.m. He walked in and said, ‘What’s going on? I was just in here, she’s at 5.’ Nurse said, ‘NO, she’s not! It’s time! NOW!’ He did a double check and we weren’t wrong. It was baby time! My husband Trav ran out of the room to grab the parents, as they had just stepped out. I was pushing while nurses were rushing to break down the bed, set up the doctor’s instruments, Trav and daddy getting on each side of the bed to hold my hand, and mama gloving up to help deliver her baby. Everything was a blur. An actual blur and emotional blur.

Jillian Goulding Photography

I couldn’t see through the tears streaming down my face and my mind racing as this was the culmination of the past two years when I officially decided to pursue surrogacy and more importantly, these past 9 months of carrying someone else’s dreams. I was having the happiest, most uncontrollable tears.

My husband counted 9 pushes, about 7 minutes, when the clock ticked to 5:32 p.m. in room 210, on September 22, 2018, one day before her due date, after 20 hours and 2 minutes of labor, weighing in at 5lb 9oz, sweet baby Alice Eloise turned a family of 2, into a family of 3. I know when they say ‘there wasn’t a dry eye in the room’ it might not always be fully accurate, but I can assure you, this time, this statement, could not be more fitting.

Jillian Goulding Photography
Jillian Goulding Photography

She was placed on my stomach while mama suctioned her nose and helped the nurse dry her off. They wrapped her up and into her mama’s arms she went. Mom and dad went to the couch with their little bundle while my husband and my mom stayed with me for the doctor to deliver the placenta and make sure my bleeding was under control. Photos were taken, hugs were given, tears were shed, and love was shared by every single person in that room.

Jillian Goulding Photography
Jillian Goulding Photography

Family is paramount for me. For as long as I have thought about being a surrogate, I have dreamed about a loving, warm, welcoming family who is just waiting for their missing puzzle piece. I feel beyond lucky to feel complete in life and it makes my heart smile to know that I can help another family feel the same way. I prayed that the couple I was ultimately matched with would want a close relationship throughout the process and it would grow organically during the pregnancy and we would feel like extended family at the end of our journey. And my prayers were answered. Alice’s mom put together an entire book of our journey and can’t wait to teach her about me and the roll I played in getting her earth side.

Jillian Goulding Photography

We have talked almost daily since the birth, even went trick-or-treating together and I couldn’t resist buying her the cutest little Hawaiian outfits on our most recent vacation. I’m so very thankful to have be able to help a family so deeply, but also gain lifelong friends through this experience.

There are absolutely no words in the English language that can fully describe how honored I feel to have a family trust me in one of the deepest ways possible. I know we will be friends for a lifetime and I can confidently say, without a shred of doubt, this is and will be one of my greatest achievements and proudest moments in my entire lifetime. Surrogacy is love.”

Jillian Goulding Photography
Photography by Bree Franklin

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Traylor, 33, of El Dorado Hills, California. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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