“Could you please carry her down to the door for us?” she asked.
I’d given birth to the baby two days prior, not my baby though, their baby. And it was time for all of us to go home. I was returning to my own three children; they were going home to start their new life as a family.
But what might have come off as an affront - a demand even - to carry their newborn down to the hospital door for them, was nothing of the sort. It was the end of their story, as she had written it in her head.
Her victory over infertility was a hard-won battle, one she was not confident she could win. It had taken an emotional toll on her over the years, one I tried at every turn to be sensitive to. I thought that by safely delivering their daughter to them I had completed my job and done all I could to help heal the wounds of her past. But as it turns out, she requested one last act.
We were all released from the hospital, so we gathered up our belongings that cold, late February afternoon. They collected their tiny infant clothing, soft blankets, bottles and booties, while I stuffed dirty pajamas, messy socks, and too big clothing into my bag.
As a surrogate, you know from the beginning that the day you each go your separate ways is going to hurt like hell. It’s a temporary hurt, of course, but a hurt nonetheless.
But then she told me how she’d always envisioned the end of this story, once she knew that the main character would not be her, but another woman. Me.
She said she’d always pictured me carrying their baby down to the front door of the hospital. Why, I don’t know, but who’s to argue with someone’s expectations of a situation they never wanted to be in in the first place?
And so that’s what we did.
Per hospital policy, I rode in the wheelchair, cradling their newborn in my arms. I was bursting with pride, as if she was my own. I’m pretty sure I smiled the whole time. I was honored to be the one to bring their baby to them.
To bring their baby to them after years of yearning, to bring their baby to them after nine months of growing, and to bring their baby to them after the birth, from the third floor of the hospital to their car for the ride home to begin their new lives together.
And so today, nine years later, we celebrate the child that binds us all together.
Happy birthday dear Rachel Jane - your presence is still a gift in my life, one I treasure every single day.