School started recently. My kids are thrilled to be back at it for different reasons. My eldest made two best friends in her first week back and my youngest is relishing being surrounded by people that aren’t family. I’m happy to see the sociable side of them coming back to life after a long COVID-induced social coma. And for the record: Zoom meetings are not a passable substitute for play dates. I am keeping pretty close tabs on my sweet littles through all of the change, but ultimately, I think it’s good.

This summer, I got a big ol’ smoker. I got accused of being a ‘damn millennial’ for getting the one I did because it has WiFi capabilities–which, for the record, are pretty cool. But I didn’t buy the thing to smoke meat because it connects to WiFi. It just happened to be the one that struck the strongest blend of cost, size (because around here, when we eat barbecue, we eat a lot of barbecue; and collards), and features that actually lend themselves to a nice long, even smoke as well as a fast smash burger sear. And it also happens to connect to WiFi. What doesn’t have WiFi built into it these days?!! Huh!? Anyway, due to not being home a ton the last half of the summer, we’ve only fired it up a few times, but all of those times have convinced us we need to do more of it because eating delicious food together is good.

My brother-in-law married one of the coolest people I know (he’s pretty cool, too, so it’s not a total mismatch). We met some incredible new friends at his wedding in Denver a few weeks ago and got to romp around my dad’s old stomping grounds at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs as kind of an add-on to that wedding trip out west. The girls think their grandpa is a total rock star because he used to wear those ‘super woodsy uniforms’. And we found In-N-Out. That trip was good.

Earlier this summer, we were able to attend my wife’s grandpa’s funeral ceremony. He got COVID and died from complications of it later in the winter, so we waited until pandemic things calmed down a bit to have the ceremony outside in a beautiful memorial garden in South Carolina. I will forever remember and miss his super infectious laughter and the daddest of dad jokes: “That guy who invented eatin’? He sure was a smart fella!” That, and how when he smiled at you, you actually felt warmer; valued. It was surreal to attend my first delayed funeral, but I’m so glad we went. I’m glad we were able to support grandma. And have homemade peach dumplings poolside; a little bit of southern summer bliss. So good.

Recently, we were asked about if we would do another surrogacy or if we would be done after this one. I’ve decided that answer is no longer any one else’s business, but in the moment, we answered the question and said this would likely be our second and last. Our asker’s reply? “Good.”

I know this was not a thought through response. I know it was out of concern for our family and Amanda’s health. I know it was meant well enough. But I know something else, too: that a family will get an irreplaceable, completely wanted from the beginning, made possible only via the incredible selflessness of my wife and her surro-sisters. I’m selfishly glad that we’ll move on to our next grand adventure, life after surrogacy. But a piece of me will always live here, a piece that I’m proud of, that has broadened my perspectives and horizons, that has informed how I think, how I listen, how I parent; how I love.

Surrogacy has been an incredible journey. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Well, parts of it I would, but then, so would Frodo. #balrog

If I had to guess, the reasons people would be glad for us to be done with surrogacy are probably distilled into three categories of reasons: political, risk, and stress.

If you might think it’s good that our participation in surrogacy is coming to an end…

  • …for political reasons, then you’re reading the wrong blog.; kindly close your browser tab and have a great day.
  • …for risk related reasons, I appreciate your concern. I’ve evaluated it thoroughly myself. The basic odds are these: in the U.S in 2019, 1 in every 107 people involved in an auto accident died as a result of the crash; in the U.S. in 2018, maternal mortality was calculated at 17.4 per 100,000 (or .0174 per 100) pregnancies. If you got in a car accident today, you are roughly a hundred times more likely to die as a result than a woman is as a result of pregnancy. The risks are real, but low enough that I’ll accept them in light of the overwhelming probability of a good outcome. Also, a super interesting graphical breakdown of maternal deaths that I found:

Source: Eugene Declercqand Laurie Zephyrin, Maternal Mortality in the United States: A Primer (Commonwealth Fund, Dec. 2020). https://doi.org/10.26099/ta1q-mw24

And finally, if you might think it’s good that our participation in surrogacy is coming to an end…

  • …for stress reasons (above and beyond normal life and pregnancy at 29), rest assured: this little family is doing just fine. We feel big feelings and we acknowledge them. Sometimes there are tears, other times there is anger, and there are more questions than the night sky has stars, but all are allowed. In a ironic twist, worrying about our stress level is causing you more stress than our collective total. So chill.

I’ll be a whole bunch of things when this baby is delivered, but glad to be done with surrogacy for any of the above is not one of them. Instead of giving us your opinion on a situation you likely don’t understand, perhaps, instead, ask us how we feel about it. The conversation will be good.