After the surgery to remove my ovaries the doctors advised a couple of weeks off. Just enough time to get the exam marking done and write all those end of year reports. By the time I went back we only had a week left. It had been a long school year dominated by hospitals, fear and a life turned upside down. I was tired but I’d made it. We moved out of number nine and next door into number eleven. Your dad was convinced when we started the renovation that we could never make it into a home for us but, as we neared the end, it was clear that he had performed nothing short of a miracle on the place and so succumbed to my pleas. I was so happy to be moving out. All those painful memories, the tears, the sickness, the injections, the waiting, the crawling up the stairs on my hands and knees when I was too weak to walk, I could leave it all behind. That’s not to say there weren’t any good memories made there, but the newest ones; the ones at the forefront of my mind, still so intense, I could shut the door on them, literally. We could start again, build a new home and perhaps, one day, a family.
We booked a last minute holiday to Italy. We went to an amazing Agroturismo in Bologna and it was perfect. Lazy days, views that went on forever and food fit for kings. We toured the region finding out about all the local produce and people. We dined on food hand picked that day, drank Lambrusco and people watched for hours. It was exactly what we needed and I could feel the strength return to my body.
After a week back at home I left your dad and headed off again, this time to Barcelona with Auntie Sophie. He worked on the garden while we explored the city. It was so good to be off the treadmill, to be getting away from it all, living life and making new memories. As we sat one afternoon in a picturesque square two little old ladies wandered past arm in arm along the cobblestones. I imagined that perhaps they were sisters too, enjoying putting the world to rights after long and fulfilled lives, I wondered whether that might be us one day, I certainly hoped so.
For the first time in a long time I felt ready to start thinking of things that weren’t just weeks or a couple of months in the future. One evening while your dad was at training I sat down at the computer and as I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook I had a thought. There were so many groups on the platform for all sorts, maybe there were surrogacy groups too? I typed it into the search bar. To my pleasant surprise a long list appeared underneath. I clicked on one that was clearly UK based and instantly fell, head over heels, into a world I never knew existed. Independent Surrogacy.
At that time I knew very little about any type of surrogacy but one thing I did know was that in the UK it’s illegal to advertise for a surrogate. Because of this, I had always thought the only way of finding anyone to help who wasn’t a friend or a relative would be through an agency. My eyes were suddenly opened to a new world of possibilities. A world where surrogates and those hoping to one day be parents would form friendships, provide guidance, offer support and potentially ‘match’ without the need for any outside agency. For hours I scrolled through the group and absorbed each and every post and picture. Stories of matches, bumps and births went on and on. Each and every one filled me with more hope and by the time your dad walked through the door I literally bounced into the kitchen to greet him. I blurted it all out, excitedly explaining everything I’d just discovered before returning to my position at the computer to take my first cautious steps. I tentatively penned an introduction.
Hi, I’m Frances and me and my husband were trying for a baby last October when we found out I had cervical cancer. At 31 this was a big shock and it’s been a really difficult 8 months. Luckily the tumour was removed with surgery and no more treatment was needed but as a precaution I had a radical hysterectomy and after undergoing IVF I had my ovaries removed. We now have 9 little snow babies waiting for someone special in the future to come along and help us start our family. To be honest the last year has been a bit of a blur and we are hoping for now to just be happy and healthy and get our heads around all this. I joined the group to dip my toe in the water so that when we were ready I would know a little about it all. x
I hovered the mouse over the post button, was it the right tone? Do I need more detail, less detail, should I add photos? Before I could spend anymore time agonizing over it I hit the button and waited. I shouldn’t have worried, responses came quickly from those wishing me luck, offering advice if needed and some photos from one lady who had been in the same position five years ago and now had two little boys. Was this all too good to be true?!
A notification popped up on the screen, a lady called Kerry had sent me a message privately. I opened it up
Hi Frances, I am part of a lovely group called hopes and baby wishes xx this is lovely group full of IP’s and surrogates from all over the uk xx a lot are matched and some are unmatched xx if you like I can add you as a friend and add you to the group if you like xx it’s hard to find a supportive loyal friendly group x
After months of nothing this was all now happening very quickly. I hadn’t ‘met’ anyone I didn’t know online since I was fifteen and spunked my pocket money up the wall chatting to strangers in random chat rooms on MSN. I ‘friended’ Kerry and was immediately invited to a secret group. Unlike a private group, which is searchable and you can apply to join, this one was totally hidden from anyone on the outside and was invitation only. I joined it. I scrolled through, this one was more chatty, people talking about absolutely anything but in amongst it all, more surrogacy stories, more pictures of scans, positive pregnancy tests, and so many happy faces.
As I delved deeper into completely uncharted territory there was definitely part of me that was skeptical and a little nervous but the adrenaline was in control now. I was hooked.
I’ve must admit, I still feel a little uncomfortable when people ask where I met G. Meeting someone on Facebook who may potentially carry your child sounds a little precarious to say the least but it was definitely easier then that it would be now. These days Facebook is synonymous with misinformation, trolls and the creation of echo chambers, a far cry from the platform it was only five years ago. Back then it was essentially a way to keep up to date with friends and family where people shared mainly holiday snaps wrote status updates about what they were having for dinner or watching TV. It was the perfect stalking platform and as crazy as it sounds you can tell an awful lot from people’s holiday snaps what they watch on TV and have for dinner. Before I even met G I knew we’d get on but there was a little while to go before getting to that point. First there were a ton of acronyms to decipher, a new etiquette to get my head round and finally a fair few set backs to navigate before our paths would finally cross.
Forever & always