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Why would a woman agree to become a surrogate mother? What drives her? A real account sensitively portrayed by the author raises some questions.
Arti was staring blankly at the ceiling. She had started to like this. The claustrophobic feeling of staying in this tiny room for the next few months, didn’t bother her much. The hospital is her second home and the familiar faces of the staff and doctors are her temporary family now, for the next 29 weeks.
She gets to lie down on her comfortable bed every night, she gets access to the TV, a clean toilet etc. She is well fed, as she gets her food on time and her health is closely monitored, for she is carrying a precious child in her womb.
Her son comes to meet her occasionally and they sit together to watch some TV. He would innocently ask “Amma, when will you come back? I miss you”. She hugs him tight. She can’t afford to be weak. Not now, when she is carrying someone else’s baby in her womb. Focus – she says to herself! The end of the tunnel will be reached. The money you get post delivery could wipe away every tear of your son.
All this is in stark contrast to the regular life.
She was born to a construction worker. She has known hunger and struggle for basic needs from her a very young age. She was married at 17 years. Hoping life would be better after marriage proved to be a mirage. If anything, the husband was alcoholic and abusive when not in his senses. She was soon pregnant. It was a beautiful baby boy. She truly wanted a better life for her son. She wanted him to go to school, get decent dresses, have at least a small room as a house. She didn’t want to pass her kind of life to her son.
But life doesn’t change because of your wishes alone. Forget about her wishes, she couldn’t even put up a decent meal for him or give him proper medical treatment when he fell sick.
One day she was at her wits’ end, her son was sick and there was nothing but an empty food stock. She went to her neighbour’s place to borrow some rice and dal. This was not the first time; the neighbour was already fed up of feeding this ever hungry family. They had their own needs to take care of, and refused to give any.
Extremely sad and disappointed, she was returning home. Abdul, who was also Arti’s neighbour, was watching all this. He was working as a cleaner in a famous infertility clinic. He approached Arti and asked her – Why don’t you take charge of your life and change its course? If you want to make money and never have to experience hunger why don’t you come with me to the hospital I work at tomorrow? And she went, to see what was in store.
Her son is 5 now and this was her 3rd pregnancy. She has agreed to being a surrogate mother. She has agreed to rent her womb to carry a baby for 37 weeks. She had to choose this in order to have a better life for herself and her son. It took a lot of courage to take this decision. To go against what the society would think, to assessing her own health risks.
She knows the drill very well now. She is happy to have the endless tablets and the good size of the meal itself, for it provides a complete meal to her son. She is happy to choose the pain of yet another C-sec, so that her son shouldn’t know the pain of hunger. She is happy to stay away from her son, for the entire duration of the pregnancy, for she is sure she could make it a better world for him when she returns.
Sometimes, she wonders, if ever her son would ever understand why his mother chose to give birth to others children at the cost of staying away from him. She brushes that thought away, for she didn’t have much of a choice between being misunderstood v/s dying of hunger.
She has no clue, that every time she chooses to surrogate, she is putting her life at grave risk. Surrogate mothers are not legally considered as “workers” and they have no legal rights.
After the delivery, there is no followup care given for the mother. There are no prescribed intervals between pregnancies or the maximum number of pregnancies allowed. This could have a telling effect on the surrogate mother’s health.
For now, all she knows and hopes for is to get the money that’s promised after the delivery and return to her son. She promised herself not to come again, but she knows that she may run out of money and the door to return is wide open as long as she is healthy enough to carry a baby.
Author’s note: This is a real story, written by me as narrated by this mother. Names are changed to protect identities.
Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay
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