Pregnancy/Maternity

Bearing someone else’s baby

Can you imagine giving away a baby that you just brought in this world? For some mothers, it is the most beautiful experience in the world.

Most mothers can barely think about the moment when she would have to give her baby away, after helping him grow and after giving birth. However, after talking with Line Picard- Deschênes, you cannot see this as a scary event. This generous and noble woman told us her story with tenderness and humor and helped us understand how generous and positive surrogate pregnancies can be.

The decision

Line Picard-Deschênes is one of these women who look and feel fabulous during pregnancy. With two children of her own, she could not accept that it was already over for her. That is when her colleague gave her the idea “At first I was laughing at her, I thought that’s only good for hippies but then I started to really think about it…” After many discussions with her family, it is with her husband’s full support that she decided to make the leap.

Did you know?

In Ontario, unlike in Quebec, pregnancy and birth are regulated by the common law that allows surrogate mothers and parents to make arrangements more easily.

Choosing

Surrogate mothers are quite rare, even if they would represent a very good solution for parents who meet difficulties as they try to have a child of their own. They are rare because, by Federal law, it is strictly forbidden for surrogate moms to receive any kind of monetary compensation. This fact, combined with the physical stress of pregnancy, the procedures and the fear of giving a child away after 9 months scare most candidates away.

Despite all this, the rarity gave Line Picard-Deschênes the opportunity to choose a couple to deal with among several potential families. “There are all kinds of parents. Some wanted to send me an embryo by courier and pick up the baby without even seeing me, others wanted me to live with them for nine months. It is a chance for us to be able to choose someone with whom we feel comfortable. That’s what happened with the couple I met. I wanted to give them access to the ultrasounds and childbirth because it is a big part of being parents.”

Preparation

In addition to taking large doses of hormones, the surrogate mother and the future parents must undergo a psychological evaluation. “This is a great act of trust from both parts and it is very helpful to meet a professional who evaluates us and gives us advice to begin this adventure at peace.”

They must also deal with a lawyer who writes everything that concerns the pregnancy, from the consequences of a divorce to bearing a handicapped child. This lawyer also helps determine what “reasonable expenditures” will be, since it is the only form of compensation that a surrogate mother can accept.

Telling her daughters

Since Line Picard-Deschênes has two daughters and teaches in an elementary school, she had her share of explaining to do. She decided to tell them this way: “The mother’s belly is broken and her doctor could not fix it so I will lend her mine to help her grow a baby”. This story helped her daughters understand the altruistic side of this project and to accept that they would not have twin brothers at home after this pregnancy.

Giving birth

During labour, Line Picard-Deschênes was accompanied by her doula who is also her nursing godmother. “My husband becomes nervous during childbirth so we decided that he would take care of our daughters at home instead. But there were so many people in the hospital room because I was pregnant with twins that it looked like a party. Even though everything was going well, there was a lot of medical staff, the parents were ecstatic to see their child, the nurses were giggling, everyone was happy. I never felt like someone was taking something away from me because I knew my two little accomplices were finally going to give the surprise we prepared together all this time.”

The moment that follows birth is the most feared by surrogates and yet: ”When everyone left, I could have felt lonely but with all the psychological preparation during birth, I felt Zen and I was proud of everything that I had accomplished.”, she says. In fact, she was so proud that she repeated the experience once more before she decided to stop pregnancies for good.

She keeps giving

For Line Picard-Deschênes, generosity seems to have no boundaries. After giving birth to the twins, she used her three months off work to write a book that will help parents and surrogates prepare for this undocumented relationship. Also, after giving birth to the twins and the last baby girl, she had a lot of breast milk to give and she shared it with parents who did not have enough or who had sick children.

A way of life

Of course, she admits that some moments were tougher than others but she hopes that more parents will meet surrogate mothers to help them achieve what nature would not give them “Everything we receive from life, whether it is by chance, destiny or God, no matter how people choose to call it, I think we must give it back. I am a lucky woman. I have a wonderful husband, healthy and kind children, a good job, great friends and I can afford to give back a little… We have one life and after it’s gone! It is nice to have a huge house but it would not fulfill me. If I did not live to the fullest, there would be something missing at the end of my life.”

If you can read French and if you would like to know more about her amazing story, you can read her book or her blog.

Image de Anne Costisella
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