What IF I Could Trade It All In?

"Here, Moxie," my mom said to me as we stood in her bathroom primping for our grown-ups only double-date,"try this razor. It's the best damned thing ever. Look – it's motorized!"

I lathered up with the powder-fresh shaving cream and took the buzzing razor from her. I took a couple of passes with it, then stroked my skin to see if the blade was, in fact, the best damned thing ever. "Oooh, silky schmooove!" 

"See? I told you! But don't you know you're supposed to shave down and not up?" she demonstrated.

"Nah, shaving up works better for me. I always seem to have little stubblies left if I shave down." I paused, suddenly realizing the absurdity of this conversation between women. "Isn't this the type of lesson that a father has with his teenage son, and not one that a mother has with her 31-year old daughter?," I said with a giggle.

Laughing, she said, "What better way to have some mother-daughter bonding than by standing in the mirror shaving our beards?"


It's been a long time. I started 2010 trying to regain my confidence, throwing myself face-first into one bloggy project or another in an attempt to dust the past two years off of my skinned knees and bruised heart.

You'll never hear me say those projects were wastes of time. You helped me raise a table sponsorship for Parenthood for Me's First Annual Family Building Dinner and Silent Auction. Nearly 100 of you participated in the Winter round of Sock It to Me. I can take some comfort in the fact that I helped some of you, even if only marginally.

Still, I find myself feeling empty, and the absence of writing here echoes the void. Words usually flow like rivers from my fingers, but lately I've felt used up, dried out, and somewhat forgotten. 3 sets of intended parents, 4 fresh transfers, 1 negative cycle, 3 chemical pregnancies, an indefinite wait with an indefinite green light…I'm no where closer to having a baby as a surrogate than I was when I started this blog 2.5 years ago. I'm tired.

Recently, (out of concern, not criticism), my mom asked, "How can you keep putting yourself through this? Don't you ever just feel like giving up?"

Truthfully speaking, I do sometimes feeling giving up, but I just can't.

I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out just why it is that I doggedly keep pursing surrogacy despite all of my setbacks. I've overcome my infertility. I don't think anyone would blame me if I packed up my baggage with the travel tags that read LAND OF IF and chucked them under the box of assorted Christmas decorations in the garage. But no – the box that I keep looking at is the one filled with maternity clothes, and it's in my closet instead of the garage. Inside are hopes and looking at it hurts. But that, my friends, is why I am a surrogate. Kristi – my IM – was able to crystallize what I could feel but could not verbalize for myself: if it still hurts, then it isn't over…when the pain is done, so are you.

What IF I can't heal?

And then, everything made sense: completing another surrogacy is as much about healing myself as it is helping someone else. If I'm not helping, or at least not actively trying to help, then it feels as if my own healing process has stopped.  I've always felt a heavy sense of survivor's guilt. I fell on the
light end on the wide spectrum of infertility.  Why should I have gotten off so easy when others have been through infinitely worse? Is part of my drive to be a surrogate an effort to absolve myself of this guilt (which I know is undeserved, but still…). If it is, then

What IF that makes me selfish?

What IF, after everything, I can't help someone via surrogacy?
What IF I come to a place where I feel I have to give up?
What if I can't carry the emotional weight anymore?
What IF I can't handle another loss?
What IF I want to give up and put away the baggage once and for all?

THAT makes me selfish, right? Just casually putting my infertility away and saying, "No more, thank you," when I know that there is someone out there who needs the fertility that I do have as a surrogate?

Cue guilt.

I think I think too much. 

Whatever personal healing I hope to get from being a surrogate still makes up only a minute fraction of my overall motivation. For me, surrogacy has always been about paying it forward. We were lucky, and I know that. Had Frank and I needed
to pursue surrogacy, I can only hope that someone would have wanted to
help us in the way I want to help others. Like I said before – I'm past my personal battle with infertility. Well, even if infertility is still playing mindgames with me, I'm at least past the technical aspects of trying to build my family. But there are the reminders – the polycystic ovaries, jacked up cycles, weight issues, and wonky hormones which say hi in the form of a 5:00 shadow every two days. And that is the heart of why I'm a surrogate – someone with PCOS or any number of other causes of infertility is out there right now consulting with Dr. Google:

"What IF I need a surrogate?"

Because she's out there, I can't give up. I care about her too much to give up. And then I think,

What IF everyone cared as much as I did?

Of course, I don't think you have to give your body over as a surrogate and take on voluntary infertility to show that you care. You show that you care just by stopping long enough to read. But what IF we got the right people to care enough to put their thoughts into actions? 

What IF policymakers Resolved to help ensure adequate coverage for infertility treatments?

What IF "regular people" understood, or at least tried to?

What IF we didn't feel like we had to hide?

Infertility awareness

Perhaps there wouldn't be as many of us wondering What If…?


I think about my life and course that it's taken and the decisions I've made and why I've made them. I know I can't be alone in thinking about alternate realities and questioning if we had it all to do over again, would we do it the same way? I think I've come far enough past my personal struggles to see the ways in which infertility has changed me for the better. I'd never say that I'm grateful for infertility, but I am appreciative of the lessons I've learned from dealing with it on behalf of myself and others. Still, I can't help but wonder,

What if I could trade it all in? What if I could exchange the PCOS and the heartache for easy conceptions and blithe unawareness?

About this question, I am sure of the answer:

Not by the hairs of my chinny-chin-chin. 

There is one less couple asking What IF? because of me, and God-willing, there will be another in the coming year. 



If you haven't already, please be sure to read others' What IF posts.

18 thoughts on “What IF I Could Trade It All In?”

  1. Moxie, this post brought tears to my eyes. There is such compassion and love in this post. But the part I liked best is the look that you are giving in the picture. You captured such a beautiful mixture of hope and expectation, and yet the hurt is still so clear. To me that is the face of IF. I just want to reach through the computer and give you a big hug.
    Much love to you…

  2. This post deepens my love for you. XOXO.
    This part especially resonates for me, since my IF days were spent pre-blogs, dark and alone:
    “What IF we didn’t feel like we had to hide?”

  3. I wouldn’t trade it in, either. I don’t want to live in that blissfully ignorant world.
    You inspire me so much, Moxie. Hoping for healing for you.

  4. This is such a wonderful post! I am so thankful there are people in the world like you, Moxie. You never, ever have anything to feel guilty about. Whether or not you are able to successfully surrogate again, the fact that you have tried so unselfishly to give the gift of family to someone else is such a comfort. To know you are out there, wishing for the best and working towards making that best for someone else shows that there is still love in this world. There is still hope. And you work so diligently to make others more aware of the plight of infertiles. Your contribution has certainly made ME more aware of the surrogacy side of IF, something I would have had no knowledge of if not for you. Thank you!

  5. I don’t know how you have the fortitude to give over your life for someone else in the manner that you do. That’s an amazing gift that you give – even if it has been the effort and not the optimum results for the past couple years. If there were more people like you, the world would be a much better place.

  6. Firstly- I love and adore you
    2ndly- I am so glad that you wrote this because, while terribly sad and probably terribly difficult to get down, it is beautiful. And even though our situations were never exactly the same you were able to express deep emotions that I totally get and have never been able to articulate.

  7. Hey beautiful lady,
    IDK what God’s Plan is for you or what He is trying to tell you.
    Your What If is a dilemma many infertile women face, but on the other side. We face the pushing forward despite the lost children, the disrupted adoptive placements, the cycle after cycle via surrogacy. Wondering What If we are never meant to become parents.
    God’s Plan was for me to keep pushing forward. While doing so, I suspended the blog because it was on my heart to do so. Baring my soul about my journey might have harmed my heart. I was a ball of confusion. Knowing dedicated women like you made me even more confused.
    So I stopped and then picked up the second the boys were born.
    Maybe this hiatus was meant for clarity for you.
    Your writing is certainly in your DNA like it is mine.
    I would not agonize if you don’t write as much honey.
    Just give it up to God and the co-bloggers (I’ll do another one if you want, a funny one… with photos… omg! About poop balls and chalked walls) when you just can’t write.
    And never give up. If it is in your heart… in a heartbeat, if we were to pursue a 3rd child and we were PIPs I would be contacting you in a heartbeat. You are amazing.
    Just know your worth as a woman, a writer, a friend, mother, sister, daughter, and wife to hottie Frank… is priceless. Whether you get closure from completing a journey or not.
    I have to live every single day of my life NEVER having a REAL journey handed to me and NEVER experiencing (though I have my Duo, and am grateful) the “moment in the sun” where I am ecstatic to be a mom. I had to walk on eggshells and I got nothing but a buncha hard stuff handed to me, during and after my journey.
    No closure for me but yet I can still blog and I can still move forward for the sake of my kids. I thought about having a 3rd child… but realized this. I am older and yes, I rock it as a mom. But would having a 3rd child be about the JOURNEY I didn’t have for CLOSURE… or would it be about the CHILD?
    That’s a tough one to answer and no way am I gonna move forward with a third child unless I can fully answer that question and be real about it.
    hugs sweetie. I always love, love, love your blog entries. Say the word and I will write a guest entry that is brewing in my head that is HYSTERICAL.
    the grey lady

  8. Love you even more and missed you girl. This was a beautiful amazing post. There are more intended paremts waiting for you, I know it. xoxo

  9. beautiful, kym. you are truly an amazing woman.
    this especially made me think:
    “What IF everyone cared as much as I did?”
    and if you needed to pack it in some day, then that would be all right too.

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