Last week, you were introduced to mom-to-be, Ashley Katzen, who is expecting her first baby via surrogate in spring 2021. Ashley first discovered she was unable to carry when she was just a teenager. This year, with the impending arrival of her son, the holiday season is feeling a bit different for Ashley. We spoke to the expectant mother about the changes she is experiencing, how the COVID-19 pandemic put things into perspective, and about her greatest gift of all.
During the holiday season - a time when everyone else is super happy - was it difficult knowing about your infertility struggles? How has this holiday season been different from years past?
My infertility struggles were definitely highlighted this year because it was the first time my husband and I actually took the steps necessary in order to get pregnant. In the beginning of the year we did an embryo transfer with our amazing surrogate that we like to call our superwoman and 12 weeks later we found out that we were having a baby girl. Shortly thereafter, we had some complications and lost the baby. This was the most traumatic experience my husband and I had ever endured. We felt debilitated and totally defeated. It also happened to be a time that most of my friends were having babies, or were already pregnant which, for most of them, just happened naturally. There is definitely a constant dark cloud of guilt over my head that I am unable to do this on my own and a feeling of “missing out” that I can’t physically share the pregnancy experience with my husband or my friends. It is very challenging to find the constant joy and happiness that the holidays usually bring, especially as I adjust to this very new and unfamiliar pregnancy journey.
Did people who didn't know about your struggles ask you about having kids during past holidays? How did that make you feel?
Yes, people often asked me when I was planning on having kids. I never felt uncomfortable briefly explaining that it would take us a little more time because we have some unique circumstances. I did feel frustrated that I had to spend so many years preparing to get here, while some women have the blessing of naturally conceiving in a lot less time.
In 2020 - a year where everyone else has had a "bad" year - what has it been like to have received your happiest news yet?
Well, when it rains it pours. With the amazing news that our second embryo transfer was successful, we also found out at the same time that my father in law was sick with cancer. Unfortunately, he passed away in October of this year, and we are still recovering from the loss. It has certainly taught us that life is precious. We feel so grateful that we are expecting our baby boy in 12 weeks but acknowledge that the world is hurting right now in so many ways. We hope that when our son arrives, we can teach him the importance of giving back, love, family, and togetherness.
What do you want to say to your surrogate about the special gift she has given you this year?
Our superwoman, you have been the light in our life during the darkest of times. You are the reason we will be able to meet the blessing that has taken half of my life preparing for. You are strong, confident, and resilient. We cannot thank you enough for committing to our family and helping us accomplish our goals. You are patient, understanding and kind. There truly aren’t enough words in the English dictionary to express our most sincere appreciation towards the work you have put in to bring this baby boy into the world. WE LOVE YOU!
Such profound expressions of gratitude from Ashley to her baby's surro-mom. Experienced surrogates - how has the gratitude shown by your intended parents helped your journey?