The Friendly City

I went to talk with my midwife (Misty) about this surrogacy thing. Originally, I had scheduled to talk with her for her advice on the situation. She is, after all, the person who has the most objective view of my pregnancies. But now that I’ve pretty much decided, why did I insist on keeping the appointment? I didn’t know why when I walked in, but pretty quickly after we started talking, I did. I don’t want to have another baby without her. She’s amazing and I feel so safe with her. I wanted to make sure she would be willing to do this.

I shouldn’t have been afraid of that. She was excited! “I know three ladies who’ve done this,” she said, “but all of them had hospital births because the intended parents weren’t into the idea of an out-of-hospital birth. But home is the perfect place for it! You don’t have the hospital limits on number of people in the room, and the intended parents could even catch the baby if they wanted to! It’s so intimate and so customizable, the experience can be whatever everyone needs it to be.”

I hadn’t thought about it that way, but wow, that would be a thing. Just to have the option–assuming they could be there and wanted to be there–of having them in the house or in the room. I don’t know that I would want that, but I also don’t know that I wouldn’t.

I’m also convinced that the reason my births were relatively easy (as easy as births can be, which is still to say super hard) is that I witnessed at least three births between three and ten  years old. I had confidence because I saw women being strong and powerful as they brought their babies into the world. JC and I have said for years that we wanted especially Petra to get the chance to witness a birth before she grows up, just in case this is more than my hairbrained theory. And I love the idea of her being present for this.

Misty also offered to get me in touch with some of the women she knows who have done this.

One thing Misty said that caught both of us off guard was, “At least if things go badly, you’ll still be in Harrisonburg.” And then she was like, “I don’t know why I said that. I just mean, there are worse places to be if you’re having a hard time.”

But I knew what she meant. I couldn’t do this if I wasn’t in Harrisonburg. Years ago, when JC was laid off, we were looking at work opportunities all over the place–Austin, Seattle, Chicago. And we had a lot of discernment about where to go and what to do. Our church unveiled a “theme verse” for the year, right in the middle of all that hand-wringing. It was from Jeremiah: Seek ye the shalom of the city were I have sent you into exile. In its shalom you will find your shalom. Although that was the theme verse given to 300 or more people, we felt like it was just for us. We certainly don’t feel exiled in Harrisonburg! But we do believe that we were called to this city, and we committed at that time to staying here. We invested more deeply in our relationships here. JC started volunteering on the board of an organization he has long admired. I amped up some of the volunteer work I was already doing. We became more rooted.

At the time, we believed this call was for what we had to offer the community, but it is undeniable that this city has been a great gift to us. We’ve never been happier anywhere we’ve lived. I have four people I consider “best friends,” and many more who are in the next tier out–“very very very good friends” maybe? I have parent friends that I see anytime I take my kids out in public and a supportive, lovely church community. Harrisonburg is called “the Friendly City,” and I used to scoff at that. Now I feel it in my bones. I couldn’t take on something of this emotional magnitude if we had moved. Harrisonburg will keep me afloat, no matter what happens.

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