When I began my business venture in 2016 as a surrogacy consultant, I could never have imagined the kind of women I would meet along the journey I was meant to travel. Each of them had a story. Each one of them that chose a couple to help and continued along the path of surrogacy, showed an integrity and perseverance like none other. One of the very first women to trust me in her journey was Kara Ferguson (now Kara Marion).
She was 23 years old and had two children. She lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba and was a kind of real that was so very refreshing. She was a straight-shooter and would not pretend to be someone she wasn’t. Kara knew what she wanted. Her desire to help brought her to me, but my desire to protect and nurture her, took us to down a wondrously unique path together.
Here is her beautiful story through my eyes.
From the moment when I first talked with Kara I had no doubts she was going to be a great addition to our community, however I was hesitant about her age. She is young, and because of that I worried that she wasn’t prepared for the full impact of what it meant emotionally as well as to the physical aspect of being a surrogate. My concern kept me particularly close to her even as she forged ahead and fulfilled her chosen role. I felt compelled to keep her safe in order to ensure that nothing happened which might deter her from completing her intended journey. What ultimately resulted was a kind of mother-daughter relationship that still makes me tear up inside.
Kara viewed a number of couples’ profiles, and immediately knew that a couple from Australia were the ones she wanted to help (we will refer to them as M & P for confidentiality reasons). They were excited about moving forward and once everything was situated at the clinic and with necessary legal procedures, Kara began her medications. The first transfer took right away. It was almost surreal how flawlessly it went. Kara didn’t worry or fuss. She went about her day to day like a regular busy mom of two and all my hesitations melted away.
Kara came to me whenever she needed to talk. She was always welcome to vent, laugh, cry, reflect and or just chat to me about life as it was. She took care of herself and that wee embryo as it grew bigger every day. I cherished watching the bond between Kara and her IPs in Australia and how happy they were that their dream was coming true.
Kara flew into Ontario in November to have a fun early Christmas celebration with a bunch of amazing surrogates. It was a fantastic night of laughs and ugly Christmas sweaters and another chance to get to know who Kara really was.
I went to get my mail one day soon after, and inside my box was an envelope from Kara. I was invited to her New Year’s Eve wedding! I was so excited! She was going to be 20 weeks pregnant while tying the knot with her fiancé Joel Marion. In true Kara style, she didn’t care about being fat in a white dress. She was celebrating her love for Joel, big belly or not. No way was I going to miss out on that day! The best part was M was flying in from Australia for the week so we would all get to meet at once. My first flight to Manitoba went off without a hitch. I rented a car and road-tripped it five hours to Russell, Manitoba and arrived at the Russell Inn at 11:30pm. We spent the next day getting to meet everyone and sharing lots of hugs and tears in a variety of ways, while watching Kara get married and also bringing in the New Year! I spent three days having a blast with people I had never met before, getting up to shenanigans while riding in laundry carts, and enjoying the indoor water slides, while bracing the freezing Manitoba temperatures. I was able to rub that growing baby belly and see Kara’s family join with her to celebrate. I was so glad that I was given the opportunity to bring in 2017 with such joy around me.
The remainder of the months leading up to the birth of Baby E were full of laughter and love. Kara had beautiful maternity photos done and she quite literally was glowing more and more as each day went by. In spite of all the excitement, I kept feeling super anxious about being at the birth and supporting both Kara and her Australian IPs. My greatest concern was if Kara went into labour early and her IPs weren’t already in Manitoba it would unfairly leave her with minimal support. Knowing that M & P’s flight cost so much money to book and changing it wasn’t easy, I was on alert that I may need to be catching a flight to Manitoba last minute. Thankfully, Kara held out until they arrived.
As the days counted down, I grew more excited and was trying to figure out how to not miss Kara’s birth experience. In fact, the week before Mother’s Day I was so anxious I thought I was going to be ill. Kara advised she was having a lot of pressure and Braxton Hicks contractions. I was trying to decide if I should book a flight or wait till I had more concrete news. In the end, I waited. When we spoke on Monday, she said the contractions had subsided so I breathed some temporary relief. Regardless of the subsiding of contractions at this time, I had to decide quickly when I was going. Kara’s OB appointment was on the Tuesday, so I booked a flight out for the Wednesday – return on the Friday. I thought for sure we would be good for me going Wednesday. But when Tuesday night rolled around and nothing (even after a stretch and sweep), I panicked and changed my flight to the Monday. I had to be home for my kids for Mother’s Day. I just couldn’t miss being with them. So of course, Wednesday night as I was going to bed I got a message from Kara that she was having contractions. I knew when I woke up that baby was going to be born and sure as the stars, he was born early Thursday morning. Deeply disappointed as I was of missing the first birth through my company, I knew that by Monday when I flew out, everyone would be home and settled and I could visit for a few days without causing any additional stress.
Mother’s Day came and Mom, Dad and sister got to celebrate with Baby E safely in their arms. Pictures started to flood in and I was filled with a genuine sense of gratitude for the relationship I had with all parties involved in creating Baby E – clinics, lawyers, everyone.
Flying for the first time by myself was an adventure. I made friends with people on the airplane and talked about why I was visiting Winnipeg. Everyone was so fascinated with Kara’s gift and it didn’t surprise me. People aren’t always exposed to such a high level of altruism in the world around them.
When I landed, I picked up my rental car and drove straight to see Baby E. His Dad greeted me on the front porch, holding him tightly in blankets. When he handed him to me, it was like a piece of me just melted. He was so perfect and it took so many people to make it happen, but it started with bringing everyone together to build a relationship that will forever be linked by that tiny little hand around my finger. Nothing could outweigh that moment.
Later I got to spend time with Baby E’s whole family including his Grandma. I was treated so kindly it was humbling. We caught up about the birth and the hours after the birth and how everyone was coping with little sleep and lots of new experiences. I spent hours simply holding him and feeling that full-circle peace slowly rise up, but it wasn’t until later that night when I was able to see Kara for dinner that I felt the circle close. I was given the opportunity to spend some private time with her and Christine, another Winnipeg surrogate. We shared laughs and a few drinks and went back to my hotel until nightfall. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be lifetime friends with two women who were complete strangers to you only a year before.
The next day I made some time to gift shop for everyone. Even with limited suitcase space, I knew I would want to do some souvenir shopping once I arrived at my destination and things had settled down. I took some Zen time for me to soak in the surroundings, and then jumped in the car to drive an hour to see another surrogate from Brandon. Victoria and I had become instant friends when she was recommended to me and I welcomed the opportunity to see her in person again and enjoy a lovely dinner together. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy time with genuine people like Victoria. It was tough to say goodbye to her that evening.
Wednesday brought the circle all together. Kara and I were able to get some priceless pictures with Baby E and his Mom which I have pinned up on my Inspiration Board indefinitely. Then us ladies took off to some more shopping at the mall and have lunch. Baby E stayed with Daddy to snooze and we swept Momma away to enjoy a few hours with us before she had to be returned to the fold.
The goodbyes were bittersweet. I knew I would see Kara again, but didn’t know if I would be able to enjoy another date with my new Aussie friends. One day perhaps when Baby E is a little older, I’ll take a trip to Australia to see them again.
Flying home late, I had an epiphany about people as a whole with regard to surrogacy. I thought of all the women I was helping become surrogates and how they would help others become families. The reality is, we tend to not view the complexities of how a single kind act can ripple through life. We see a baby. We see two people who are about to embark on a new journey. But unless we are intimately connected with those THREE people, we don’t see the ripple effect of a woman like Kara’s decision to become a surrogate. On the outside, nobody can begin to fathom how many people are blissfully happy because of Baby E. But I see it all in an even bigger filter – how each surrogate birth is an aid for clinic success rates and the effect each new surrogacy case adds to the movement in Canada for change in legislation. Baby E’s birth provokes thought and discussion among so many different crowds, as does every other surrogate journey.
Kara has become more of a daughter to me than anything. I protect her, cherish her, and respect her in ways I never thought imaginable outside my own family. Kara thinks of others before herself. She’s a rebel, a country girl, and an advocate for the rights of others. She reminds me of me… perhaps that’s why we clicked so fiercely. In the months that followed Baby E’s birth I’ve grown to understand even more what the term community really means to me. It’s the word I chose for this company and it’s not by accident that I felt that it was necessary to include in the name. I’m building a community of strong women, miracles, and love. Who gets to say they have a job like that? I’m willing to bet not too many.
Baby E’s story from Kara’s eyes
My story is strange to some, but normal to others as it was filled with many doctor visits and a lot of crossed fingers and toes. We felt so lucky when their wonderful soul-filled embryo took. He was determined right from the get go, always moving and measuring right where he was supposed to be – all we had to do was wait.
By 11pm on May 10th, I was having those wonderful contractions which I had also had a few days prior. I thought nothing of it, they weren’t getting stronger, but were sometimes coming six minutes apart. I figured it was time to go in and called my mom to come watch over my own children, got my husband up and messaged the birth photographer. By 1am we were on our way to the hospital. We called my Intended Parents to let them know we were on our way as it was going to take us a bit to get there. I got to the hospital and was in my triage bed about 2am. My nurse was simply amazing. She openly asked whom we wanted in the room, and accepted when I told her I wanted both intended parents, my husband and the birth photographer. With that agreed upon, she got to work trying to get us a room big enough to have everyone. Within 20 minutes my water had broken, and by that point the nurse was pushing hard to get us a room as quickly as possible as they were aware that my last birth was 3 hours. By about 3am they had me in my delivery room and things were rapidly progressing. At 4:10am exactly on his due date and after only 10 minutes of pushing, a beautiful baby boy was born and handed straight into the arms of his mom.
My birth photographer got a photo of baby just out with the cord still attached and in his mother’s arms with his dad smiling behind her. That photo captured the look I had eagerly waited for 9 months to see. It was like their own little piece of heaven had been placed in their arms. The ‘thank you’ said in tears and the eyes that spoke a million other words they wanted to say but couldn’t get out, was the exact reason I became a surrogate. Two families join together in a rocky but life changing journey all tethered together by love. The journey through surrogacy was so unique and beyond rewarding. To be able to give the gift of life has forever changed my own life.