One of the surprises with this surrogacy experience is that some of the things I hoped for are happening before I have a chance to ask. One thing is that I said to JC early on was that I wished I could just hang out with Natalie and Logan in person for a few days, that that would be easier to deal with some of the difficult stuff in person rather than via emails or a million texts or difficult phone calls (because Natalie is deaf, it’s super hard to do the phone. We’ve since discovered that Skype is pretty manageable–but it’s still not the same as sharing physical space with someone.
And then Natalie asked if they could come visit us! Having them here, even if it was only for a few days, was wonderful.
The first day they were here was a little crazy; they wanted to meet certain people and by coincidence, they were all only available on the first day. But what a wonderful day.
Natalie had wanted to meet Jennifer (can’t blame her! Who wouldn’t want to meet Jennifer?), so we met her at the Little Grill for breakfast. I was so torqued up, I barely ate my whole wheat blue monkeys. I did drink a lot of coffee, though! Drug of choice.
Jennifer told me later that she’d had an intense morning and was feeling a little frazzled, but that she told herself as she was walking in, “I need to be present here for what is happening. We might have a holy moment here at the Little Grill, of all places.” And I think we kind of did. Jennifer is the kind of person who people tend to open up with, and so that is very much the kind of conversation we ended up having. We didn’t talk much, or at all, about the surrogacy, even though Jennifer kept offering openings that way. We talked instead about other big things–theology, love, fear. One of the questions on our regular pastor performance evaluation surveys is “Are you proud of your pastor?” I kept thinking through that whole breakfast that yes, I emphatically am. I don’t think I would have had the grace she did, coming into this impossibly unusual situation and confronted with people she’d never met before, to respond with openness and wisdom.
After our breakfast, we stopped by the church briefly because I wanted them to meet our prayer alcove window, and then we headed over to Brookhaven Birth Center to meet Misty. Misty was amazing. She showed off her birth center, showing them the hidden medical stuff in the homey rooms. She had great answers for all of their questions about transfers, emergencies, testing, etc. Am I proud of my midwife? Emphatically, yes! Seeing Misty and talking with her about everything made me feel better–but I think it maybe made Natalie and Logan feel worse. Natalie has only seen one birth before (she caught a baby during her residency) and I don’t think Logan has ever seen it. They suddenly seemed to grasp the magnitude of what they had asked of me in a way that they hadn’t before. Natalie, at one point said, “But what do you do if Alisha is in pain? What can you give her?” I was able to answer that question, instead of Misty, by telling her a bit about my own kids’ births. With Petra, I really didn’t have much pain. I was uncomfortable, and there were points when I just didn’t want to do it any more, but I never was in unbearable pain. She did not seem reassured.
We had a bit of down time at my house after that, and they read to the kids and helped get dinner ready. And then Laura, Myers, Bethany, Peter, and all of their children came over for dinner. Utter pandemonium! Eight adults and eight children! Normally, when we have all of the kids over, it’s in the morning, when people are feeling a bit less crazy. But at dinner time, all eight of them were at high crazy mode. I felt bad for Natalie; there was so much noise I can’t imagine she was able to hear much of anything. But we did our best to muddle through and make conversation. Bethany declared Logan and Natalie “wonderful,” and I agreed. Natalie remarked that it was hard to remember which kids went with which parents because all six of us were seamlessly managing all of the wild things. Am I proud of my friends? Emphatically yes!
During the whole day, except for the midwife visit, we didn’t really talk about the surrogacy very much with other people, but I valued introducing them to my community, to people who matter in my life, who will support me through all of this.
The next day, I had to teach for a lot of the day, but when I got home, we went for a hike up the Lover’s Leap trail at Hone Quarry. I hadn’t been on that trail in years; I remember the last time I did it, Carlos and Michele were with us, and one of my kids was a baby in a front pack, but I don’t know which one. This time, the kids scooted right up the trail with a fairly minimal amount of whining. When we got all the way to the top (about a mile straight up), everyone was struck suddenly silent by the scale of a Virginia autumn. Living in the desert, Natalie has little experience with deciduous trees. “That tree looks like it’s on fire!” she said of a sugar maple.
On our last day together, we went to Winchester to meet my mom for dinner. Carlos came with us, and Alex came over from WV. We had a good time, and I think that Mom felt better about the whole thing after meeting them. And then they went home the next day. I missed them immediately. I’m so glad they came, and I can’t wait to go visit them in January (for some appointments ick but still, trip to the desert in January!).