18 September, 2009

Could you loan out your body?

I remember the day that Mr Ruby Slippers, BFF Slippers and I met Emma Thompson. It was in February 2007, and we (ok, BFF RS and I) were so giddy and excited that one of our favourite celebs was actually coming to little old South Africa, that we were on a high the whole day. Picture drunken, gibbering idiots and you have us, without the drunken. We were just drunk on celeb-stalking. Anyway, afterwards the three of us went out to lunch, and Mr Ruby Slippers got to listen to us yabbering on about how lovely Emmawas (she really was!) and how we wished we could be best friends with her. At one point I said, "Oooh, I wonder if she'd like a surrogate mother so she could have another child? That way we'd always have a bond and I could totally become her friend!" We laughed, and Mr Ruby Slippers didn't. He said, "Um, no."

I was taken aback, because Mr RS and I have a very easygoing relationship, and he doesn't usually say the "N" word to me! So I was all, "What, you wouldn't want me to do that?" and he said, "No, I wouldn't", and I said, "So if I wanted to be Emma's surrogate you would actually forbid me from doing it?" and he went, "Yes, I would." At which point I probably made some stupid comment about how he couldn't because we weren't married (it was a bit of a sore point with me that we'd talked about it but he had yet to propose), and we stopped arguing about it because it got awkward. Possibly more for BFF Ruby Slippers. Anyway, it wasn't like I was actually serious. It's the same thing as saying you wish you could marry Josh Brolin so Barbra Streisand could be your stepmother (BFF Ruby Slippers wants this). You know it's never going to happen, and when it came to the moment you probably wouldn't even like Josh Brolin in that way, so it'd never happen anyway.

So what I took away from this conversation was that Mr Ruby Slippers had very definite ideas about my loaning out my uterus, even to someone totally awesome like Emma Thompson, and his ideas were that I was forbidden from doing it. Which might be the only time he's stopped me doing anything. I can wear what I want, watch what I want, go where I want, because, hey, we have that easygoing relationship. But clearly my body is his.

(So no letting Robert Redford have sex with me for one million dollars, darn it).

Anyway, it wasn't like I was serious.

Fast forward to now. A few days ago, a friend of mine mentioned on Facebook that he was looking for a womb to incubate his baby. You gotta love Facebook; nothing is TMI. :-) So everyone started making jokes in the comments, and I went, "How much are you offering?", and there was a bit of back and forth banter about me being *wide open* (read in all the innuendo you like) to high offers, and so on and so forth. And I started feeling very weird about it, because although it started off as a joke, and it was still kind of playing out as a joke on Facebook, I had caught myself wondering, "could I actually do that? If someone paid me enough money to be a surrogate mother, could I do it?"

My first instinct would be to say, "No, of course not! That'd just be weird. I couldn't be pregnant and then give the baby up, could I? Could I?"

But thousands of women do it. How do they reach the point where they're able to go through the amazingness of having a child inside them, and then just handing it over to someone else to raise at the end of nine months of sickness, aching backs, peeing all the time, and utter awe at seeing a tiny body move inside their own? How do you not become attached to that child, even if you know all along that it isn't yours, that it doesn't carry your DNA, and that you're just growing it for someone who is unable to?

But other people can do it, I told myself. And then the mercenary side of me kicked in. If they paid me enough money to do it I could have things I'd always wanted but was never able to afford. We might be able to afford to emigrate, which we keep talking about but never actually do because we're poor. Or we could have our own house. Or see the world. Or.....you see, I've grown up without money. We weren't well-off when I was growing up, and the money I made at the bookshops I worked at shocks most people when I tell them. So I live without spending much, most of the time. I've moaned about this before, so I don't want to harp, but because I live on so little money I get really excited about free stuff (Yeah! Free sweets at a function! I'm going to take them all home with me!), and when I see some way of possibly making a ton of money I'm all over the idea without really thinking it through.

You see where this is heading? I had actually started, in a mild way, considering carrying a baby for my friends. Mostly for the money, because it's not like I'm going to go through the crap that comes with pregnancy without any of the joy to go with it for FREE. But these guys would be great parents. Yes, they're both men. Which makes me want to help them out even more, because I'm 100% for gay rights, and so many people will NOT want to help them just because they're gay. And they would be great parents. They got married two years ago and were together for at least four or five before that. The husband that I know better, from my community theatre, is something awfully clever in IT that I don't understand, has a really sharp, clever sense of humour, is a good actor with an hysterical sense of comic timing, and just an all-round fun guy to hang out with. His husband is a doctor (hello brains and money!) and loves musicals and theatre (of course, I love that about him.). They love each other and they want a child. They have money with which to pay for said child. And the very fact that I considered doing this for the money scares the heck out of me.

Enter Mr Ruby Slippers who, of course, put a stop to any notions I was having, by forbidding me from doing it. I asked him, if I really wanted to do it, if I was 100% certain and wanted with every part of me to do this, would he really stop me? And he said it would just freak him out too much, to have me pregnant with someone else's baby. (Can you imagine those awkward scenarios when you run into old friends? "OMG you guys are having a baby!" "No, we're just keeping it warm for someone else.") But jokes aside, it's too personal, too intimate for Mr RS to deal with. I think it really is for me too. As usual I've just let money cloud my judgment. But I can't help wonder, if I was single, would I be considering this more seriously?

This is quite the controversial issue I've raised here. What do you guys think? Would you be able to carry a baby and give it up? Do you think it's something that should only be done out of love and friendship, and money is just an awful thing to bring into it? Because I know how mercenary I sound when I say I might do it for the money. I really do.

If it was your sister or your best friend who was desperate for a child, could you do it? Would you ever be able to "forget" the baby that was part of you?


  1. Somehow in my mind I think that doing it for your sister would be different than doing it for just a good friend. A sister you share a huge chunk of DNA with, right? And you'd get to be Auntie to the baby, so you really wouldn't be giving up all contact with the little being that was grown inside you. With a friend... I dunno. That would be harder for me. I've moved a lot and have never had a really really strong bond with a friend. I've thought I had one, but push come to shove when I move it's too inconvenient and we stop talking.

    I think I could do it for a sister, but probably not for a friend, I guess is what I'm saying. :)

  2. I think my mister would have the same reaction as Mr RS. And along those same lines, I cannot imagine letting him be a sperm donor for a friend/relative - I think when people are married it would be difficult to let another person or couple intrude on the intimacy of the marriage.

    We've been trying to have a baby for 6 years now so it isn't like we'd be in high demand for the surrogate market! Coincidentally, a few years ago my sister did tell us she would be willing to be a surrogate (my egg, my husband's sperm, her uterus). I'm not sure, it still seems a little crazy to me. Plus, she's about to have her first baby in 2 months so not sure if she would still be on board with the notion (or how her husband would feel about it either).

  3. Hi! This post really resonated with me because my sister can't physically have children, but she also doesn't want to pass on her DNA.

    She has CF, so she's very concerned about any possible children having the disease. I have told her that I will both donate my eggs and carry a child for her depending on a few private conditions, but both my husband and I feel good about it. It probably helps that my eldest child is adopted, so I understand how you can love someone enough to let him/her go. I also think it's easier knowing you'll have a role in that child's life.

    It is a very tough decision to make, though, and one should never do it unless everyone involved feels 100% comfortable.

  4. I don't think I could... but I kind of WISH I could! It's soooo much money.

  5. I am 3 weeks postpartum from a surguracy for my cousin who was unable to have children. They tried in vitro twice and everything in between. I can tell you from experience it is not easily done. I have three children and i felt that if I could give a gift of a child to someone who would be an excellent parent and It's what God wanted me to do i could do it. It has changed my life. I have never experienced so much joy and peace. I don't know how it would be if I had a desire to have more children or if I didn't have any but it was worth every minute of anguish pregnancy brings!!


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