It’s hard to know where to start. Some of you know a bit about my story, while others hardly know my name. Well, I’m Kate. And, just like you, I’ve got some problems.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll fast-forward a bit to how I came to be 34 years-old. When I was 16, I became sick. Finally, at 17, I was diagnosed with a severe form of Ulcerative Colitis. Sometimes, it was managed. Often, it was not. I saw a meme last week about a dude in Florida being arrested for crapping in someone’s driveway. The meme was all like, “WHO THE F WOULD DO THAT?” And I was like, “IT ME.”
So aside from having like ZERO control of my bowels for my late teens and early twenties, it was basically a total shitshow (pun intended). I was hospitalized 26 times between 2007 – 2016. I had nine surgeries in that time. I had my large intestine removed. My rectum removed. Parts of my small intestine removed. A cyst that held two LITERS of fluid removed. I had an ileostomy created. I had an ileostomy reversed. I was subjected to NPO (nothing by mouth, or no food or drink) sometimes for two weeks at a time (don’t ever complain to me about your dry mouth ever again). I had blood clots in my portal vein, nasogastric tubes put down my throat more times than I’d like to remember, and emergency surgeries to save my life from complete small bowel obstructions.
Suffice it to say, I spent a lot of time in white-walled hospital rooms with shitty blankets and NPO signs above my bed. Maybe it’s beginning to make sense to you why neutral decor isn’t my thing.
It was, as I said, a shitshow. Until 2016. 2016 was the year that broke me.
After several rounds of IVF, I became pregnant with our second child. At the 13-week ultrasound, we were told she was dying. She held on until 17 weeks. The day we lost her, I broke. Nothing had come very close to breaking me before, but that broke me right in half.
One week later I found myself hospitalized again. This time for a raging pelvic infection and something called an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) had developed in my uterus from losing the baby. I was losing a lot of blood and the infection was spreading. After a one-week stay in the hospital, they had stabilized my body, but my mind was still broken. Parts of my body were, too, now. I was told I could never carry a baby again.
So, I did what any person with no savings and a completely irrational mind would do: I joined a waiting list for a surrogate.
And three months later we were matched with AN ANGEL ON EARTH.
A lot of people ask me a lot of questions about the surrogacy process. They ask me how it felt to have another woman carry my baby when I couldn’t carry one myself. I am asked if I felt angered or exasperated by my lack of control over the pregnancy that carried my daughter.
Do you want to know how I felt?
I felt grateful, excited, appreciative, and there was really not a moment (and there still isn’t ) where I just downright felt like crying with gratitude that there was a human being who was willing to go through the hell of a pregnancy (and C-SECTION!) to give us this child. I was in the operating room for our surrogate’s c-section. Watching another woman give birth to my baby will stand as the most profound moment of my life until the day I die. It was generosity, selflessness and humanity personified. The moment Josie was born felt like all of those things were being born, too. And the gravity of those emotions was profound enough to make me whole again, though the way it pieced me back together made a very different puzzle than the one I had been before.
This finally brings me to Josie’s room. This very room was the place I would come when I wanted to be close to her throughout our surrogate’s pregnancy. This room is in New York, and our surrogate was in Kentucky. I couldn’t be at most ultrasound appointments, I couldn’t feel her kick, and I couldn’t feel my belly growing larger with life. But, I could sit in this space. I could dream of Josie being here, our rainbow baby, and I took meticulous pains to make sure her room was as colorful as her life.
Because there was no way any baby of mine was going to spend any amount of time in a whitewashed room.