I am so honoured to be able to share the motherhood and surrogacy journey of Whitney Eldredge. I connected with Whitney via Instagram and was instantly drawn to her stunning, moody captures of her family life in Portland, Oregon. I was following her blossoming pregnancy for quite a while before I realised it was a surrogate pregnancy. I was fascinated- and in awe of this beautiful young mother of two, choosing to carry a child for another couple.
Surrogacy is not something we see or hear much about in Australia. Commercial surrogacy is illegal, and often has negative connotations as infertile couples are forced to find surrogates overseas and, like adoption, are met with so much beaurocratic red tape, that the option is often put in the “too hard” basket.
I had so many questions for Whitney. As a mother, how easy was it to sperate from this new child? Did the pregnancy feel different? How did her other children feel? What was her motivation? So I asked her- and her raw, honest eloquent post below makes me love her even more. To create a family for someone. Now that’s a gift. What a special soul you are. xo
My name is Whitney Eldredge, I have lived in Oregon my entire life, I met my now husband Aaron at a karaoke bar in Portland called the Gypsy on October 25th 2007. I stand by my word when I say I fell in love that night, I wholeheartedly knew that one day, I would marry that boy. We have two children, Sophia is freshly six and Oliver is just shy of four! We live in a cozy home in sw portland and have truly found a quiet peace in this new phase of our parenting journey.. we are settled in and figuring out we know a thing or two about what we’re doing ;).
Our second child Oliver was born with severe to profound hearing loss and it truly shook us to the core. I felt lost and overwhelmed and honestly, inadequate to parent him. Like I wasn’t enough. I look back now and think, “you idiot.” – I seriously wish I could shake that old me. But it’s those moments that shape you. It strengthened me in every possible way, and we came out on top. With Oliver’s early years being so stressful and busy with tests and surgeries and more tests, we knew it would be a longer amount of time before we added any other babies (if any) to this little family of ours.
So, after things slowed down a bit in our life I started looking into surrogacy. See, my mother’s best friend had many many miscarriages, she tried many different things with doctors and nothing ever worked, she was never able to have a child. My mother on the other hand, was able to have five healthy children. This truly breaks my heart to this day. I decided that maybe, I would like to give someone a baby, someone that isn’t able to do so on their own. I discussed it with my husband and we agreed it was worth looking into. Once we decided on the agency it just sort of happened in the blink of an eye, before I knew it, we were full speed ahead!
Fast forward to today, eight months after I gave birth to her, a darling girl named Louison is living in France with her daddies. That statement kind of makes my heart skip a beat :).
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
Surrogacy changed me forever. During the process I felt very strong, focused, and positive about carrying this child for the intended parents. It was different from my own pregnancies. Louison was not mine, and it truly felt that way. At first, I was worried how my children would react but I can honestly say it was so smooth, they only missed me when I was at the hospital delivering the baby! From the beginning we made it very clear that this baby was not ours, mommy was carrying it for the “french daddies” (as we like to call them!) and then they were going to take her home. Sophia had a very simple response, “ok that’s fine, but they should probably get a mommy once they take her.” Ha!
I did not know the intended parents before this process started, I applied at the agency and a week later the agency contacted me letting me know they had a couple in town from France that they wanted us to meet, thinking we might be a great match! I was honestly surprised at how quickly it was happening but of course I said yes! In that first visit, Aaron and I both knew, we wanted to carry their baby. They are truly amazing people. And that was the beginning of our journey. They live in France and were traveling to Portland for a baby via surrogacy because it is illegal there, which is so incredibly strange to me. Hopefully someday those laws change. However, it’s pretty special saying I gave birth to a little french girl, I mean.. that’s something alright.
The great thing about these intended parents was even though they lived in France, they were able to travel to Portland for the ultrasound when they found out the sex and they were also present for the birth of their little girl. Which by the way, was my first natural birth – so I’m pretty sure those fathers are traumatized from all the cursing. ohhh just kidding ;). Maybe.
AFTER birth was something altogether different. Something that cannot be sugarcoated. It was rough. Women are emotional creatures post baby birth, we are fucking roller coasters and I was no exception. I think it hit me hard when I was headed back to work two weeks after giving birth and I didn’t feel ready, but I didn’t have a baby to take care of? I never once felt sad that I didn’t have a baby, I just felt sad that I couldn’t jump right back into my life and be myself again. Like, voila! It’s over! Thankfully my husband was incredibly supportive and had nothing but patience patience patience throughout the entire process. It got better, and you know what, it was still worth it.
A second surrogacy? Again??
The question has been brought up! The fathers of Louison actually asked me if I would do another! Honestly, maybe if I wasn’t 30. I feel old. Well not like right now I feel old. But, I haven’t decided if we are done having our own children and I don’t really want to be pregnant when I am 35 so I feel as though I am running out of time… you know? Part of me thinks “just go for it”, but it’s a lot to take on and you really need to be 110% sure about it and I just don’t think I’m there at this point in my life. Pregnancy is a process and it’s so very fulfilling but it does take a lot out of you!
People always seem so surprised when I mention surrogacy. Like it’s shocking. But I feel like it’s more and more talked about. Especially here in Portland. Maybe this interview will help spread the word eve more. For me, being a mom is EVERYTHING. Before I met Aaron I was a wild child. To the core. I don’t think I have ever said no to living on the edge, and I think that’s why I feel so very fulfilled at this point in my life. I don’t have any regrets and I like this part of my life even more. I truly do. I like the silliness. I like the gentle adventures. I like the imagination. I like the triumphs. I think about being a mom and what it has given me and I just want everyone that wants this, to have it. I want surrogacy to be so very available. I want more people to know about the option. I want people to help one another. I want people to share in experiences. You know?
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. “ – Winston Churchill
Post surrogacy life is back to normal :). My husband and I both work full-time during the week, and truly cherish the weekend freedom with the kids. We ache for summer. I meannnnn ache. During this somewhat rainy season called spring we soak up the bits of sunshine and spend a lot of days indoors. You can find me constantly photographing our children, Oliver is usually getting into mischief and Sophia is most often creating her next big masterpiece or pretending to be a princess. Our life is messy and honest and loud and beautiful and filled to the brim with love. We aren’t sure what the future holds for us, hopefully some wicked good surprises and lot and lots of mornings when my children sleep past 8 ;).
Never doubt your wildest dreams, they’re usually the ones that leave the biggest imprint on your life.
Follow Whitney on Instagram @whirlybirdwhitney