What kind of woman says “giving up a baby was the most thrilling moment of my life”? Ask Pam MacPhee.
Nine years ago, doctors diagnosed her cousin Henry’s wife with aggressive cervical cancer. Treatment was likely to cause infertility, so the couple froze eighteen embryos prior to the start of radiation. Curious about their options, Pam researched surrogacy. The more she learned, the more she became convinced that she should offer herself as a gestational carrier to Henry and Lauren.
“It was a leap of faith,” she explained. “I had such a desire to give them hope as they were battling cancer. I asked myself whether I had the mental, physical and emotional strength… and decided I did.”
How did she explain her choice to her husband and children? “I told my children, ‘Lauren is sick and her tummy doesn’t work right, so I’m going to put her baby in my tummy until it’s ready to come out. Then, I’ll give it to her.’ They were fine with that. The truth is, it’s not that complicated. My husband was totally supportive. He wanted to help, too.”
Once the cancer was defeated, “with a foundation of honesty, trust, and open communication,” Pam said, “we found our way through the anxieties, challenges and awkward moments of the surrogacy process together. The day after Mother’s Day (2001), I was thrilled to deliver a beautiful, healthy baby girl for them. They were speechless with awe when they first laid eyes on Hope.”
What were Pam’s feelings, as the woman who had carried this baby for nine months? Did she find it difficult to think of baby Hope as their child? “Not at all,” she said. “Intended parents fear that surrogates will bond with the babies they carry. But a stable, mentally-healthy surrogate never feels like the mother; we are more like nurturer-protectors. We connect with the baby, but we don’t form a mother-child bond. Our bond is with the parents.”
Any regrets? “No. It was the most fulfilling time of my life,” said Pam, “watching my cousin become a father, and seeing his wife embrace life and hope again after the devastation of cancer. It was a privilege to share that moment of joy and wonder with them.”
Is that how all surrogates feel? “The main motivation of surrogates is wanting to give joy. They are women who want to help, who enjoy being pregnant and realize that they can give the gift of a life to someone else. Whether or not they get paid, money is not the primary factor. It’s a desire to give hope.”
Pam approached her role as a surrogate with a servant’s heart, giving selflessly out of love. That perspective enabled her, and the baby’s intended parents, to move through the journey with healthy boundaries. “We focused on clear communication, mutual trust and sharing the pregnancy.” Their experience models the ideal approach to surrogacy – one based on a foundation of love as scripture describes it:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” [I Corinthians 13:4-8].
Pam’s advice to infertile couples considering surrogacy? “Trust that the surrogate is there for you. She is not attention-seeking or self-serving. She is a loving person who wants to help someone who’s hurting become a parent. Focus on the miracle that is happening through her body, and the joy of anticipating the baby – rather than fear, or the need for control – and it will be a fulfilling journey for both of you.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Pam’s surrogacy experience, visit her website or read her book, Delivering Hope: The Extraordinary Journey of a Surrogate Mother.
Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com