(Warning: This post contains spoilers from Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.)
As a die-hard Gilmore Girls fan, I spent weeks preparing for the reboot Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life by binge-watching the entire series from beginning to end, with tons of junk food and an IV full of coffee. When I watched the first episode of the reboot, I almost choked on my pizza, as one of the plotlines appeared to have been ripped right from my life.
In episode one of Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life, “Winter,” Lorelai and Luke are considering having a child. Because they’re both in their late forties, they are considering the possibility of surrogacy, or the process of a couple implanting an embryo into a surrogate via in-vitro fertilization (IVF). So they consult with Paris Geller, who at this point is running a successful surrogacy agency. (One of her clients is Neil Patrick Harris.)
As a former surrogate, I perked up to see Lorelai Gilmore consider surrogacy with her lovable grump partner. Considering that one in eight couples encounters some sort of difficulty conceiving, surrogacy is becoming an increasingly common way for people to grow their families, and I was excited to see the show shine a light on it. However, Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life got a few things wrong about the process that I wanted to clear up.
For starters, Paris spends most of the episode discussing the physical characteristics of potential “breeders," which would only be relevant if Lorelai were using a surrogate who was also the egg donor. That’s called “traditional surrogacy,” which involves the surrogate using her own egg and being artificially inseminated by the father’s sperm, and it’s only legal in some states. It’s much more common to use a gestational surrogate, or a woman who carries a baby using the intended mother’s egg and the intended father’s sperm.
When I was a surrogate, that's exactly what I was.
I started considering become a surrogate after my own devastating loss, when I miscarried twins at 13 weeks. Although I was crushed by the loss, my husband and I kept trying, and we got lucky: my rainbow baby was conceived on my due date with the twins.
As the pregnancy progressed, I couldn't help but acknowledge my good fortune. There was no reason other than luck that I got a baby, I thought. Plenty of women try for years and years with no luck and no explanations. And when my healthy baby was born, that desire to help those deserving women grew stronger.
I loved my first pregnancy, and when I got pregnant a second time, I was just as happy. My mother always talked about pregnancy as this magical time when she was the most beautiful creature who ever lived, so every time I passed by a mirror I saw a graceful earth goddess, the kind that stands in a field of wildflowers with a halo of daisies, gently cradling her perfectly round belly. After my second birth, the rush of adrenaline and oxytocin afterward was addicting. I was a birth junkie, and I needed just one more fix.
A friend of mine had gone through six or seven miscarriages, and I had jokingly offered to carry her baby a few times. (She ended up going through IVF herself.) But the idea of becoming a surrogate had been planted in my head. As I lay there nursing my toddler for what would be one of the last times, I started asking Google how to find someone who needed a baby baker.
I was a birth junkie, and I needed just one more fix.
After a few tries, I got in touch with an agency, who put me in touch with a coordinator who had been a surrogate herself. My coordinator didn't treat surrogates like breeders, nor did she sort out surrogates based on their hip-to-waist ratio or their eye color. Instead, surrogates are asked to fill out detailed profiles about their own pregnancy experiences, their family lives, their motivations for being a surrogate and their expectations for their surrogacy journeys. My coordinator helped pair intended parents with surrogates whose personalities she thought would mesh well. There very well might be agencies out there like the one Paris runs, but a good agency will treat its clients with respect and compassion.
Eventually, my agency matched me with a beautiful couple who’d been robbed at their shot of an easy path to parenthood because of cancer. Our relationship blossomed into a beautiful friendship (in fact, we watched Gilmore Girls together during our first IVF transfer), and last March, almost exactly eight years after the day I heard the terrible news that my twins didn’t have a heartbeat, I delivered a beautiful baby girl into the arms of her father. Her mother ran to my side, weeping as the nurses placed this tiny pink person on her chest.
Although surrogacy has evolved into a widely accepted method of procreation, the process of baking other people's babies is a little confusing to the general public. A big chunk of information about surrogacy comes from tabloid magazines and Lifetime movies, which often lead people to believe that surrogates are money-hungry sociopaths out to destroy marriages and take off with newborns.
Her mother ran to my side, weeping as the nurses placed this tiny pink person on her chest.
The real world of surrogacy is much more beautiful than that, and the vast majority of surrogates are just normal women who love being pregnant and want to help. Surrogates are people, not soul-less incubator pods owned by powerful agents like Paris Gellar who dictate what they eat or how worthy they are based on height or bone structure. They're real women with stories just like mine, who want to give couples a life-changing opportunity they might not otherwise have had.