Putting on a brave face

I get a lot of comments, both offline and online, about how positive my attitude has been throughout our surrogacy journey so far. I’ll admit, I am generally a glass-half-full person by nature. That said, just because I slap a smile on my face nearly every day doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing to do. Sometimes it feels like I’m putting on a brave face more than anything – fake it ’til you make it, I suppose.

Nearly two years into our surrogacy journey, we’ve faced many more ups and downs than I initially thought we would. During my egg retrieval I ended up with a painful case of OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome). It’s something I didn’t really talk about during or afterwards – not because I was trying gloss over it, but because I had a really difficult time processing the fact that I wasn’t able to breeze through like the IVF warriors I see online. It took me months to put to words, even with my own husband, just how traumatic the experience had actually been.

Next up was our broken match in January 2022. Sarah, who was our first match, had to back out for family reasons. No amount of reassurance from friends or family made me feel like we’d bounce back. Even though the broken match was nobody’s fault and we all remained on great terms, it was a painful taste of how so much of these journeys can be outside of everyone’s control.

After we met and matched with Ashley, things took a really positive turn – we managed to go months without any setbacks – until the worst one hit. When she got pregnant on our first transfer, followed by an early loss at five weeks (categorized as a ‘chemical pregnancy’). That loss broke my heart, and yet the world kept spinning around me and my responsibilities did not change. My dog still needed to be walked and reports at work still needed completing. Feeling broken did not absolve me of the need to move forward – and so forward I moved.

In pushing forward, we focused our attention and energy on our next planned transfer in September, only for that transfer to be cancelled. Suffice to say…this has been a long road.

Through it all, I have smiled, kept upbeat, and continued to share things publicly as much as my heart has allowed me to. So why highlight the surrogacy journey low points now? Because I think it’s worth reminding people that just because someone is handling things well on the outside doesn’t mean they don’t need your empathy or support. Social media is a highlight reel, and like many people I generally share more of my best days than my worst.

On those rough days, and there have been a number of them where I feel like I’ve been kicked over and over again, I have to make the decision on what version of myself I want to put out into the world. I like to think that by putting on a smile every day, especially when I feel weak, I’m committing a deliberate act of resistance against my infertility. There is so much I can’t control in my desire to be a mom, but what I can do is try my best to choose joy, resilience, and to show up for myself.

The things that have happened so far – both good and bad – have been outside of my control. Same goes for our next steps (which includes a transfer next week!). What I know is that the people around me deserve the best Baden I can be, and so despite the challenges that’s who I am going to try to offer each day. Infertility sucks, but I won’t let it steal my shine.


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