Today, Sara Connell author of Bringing in Finn shares how her mother's decision in a time of great suffering in Sara's life bonded them together in the most amazing and joy-filled way. Grab a tissue, this post will touch your heart.
“Family bonding in difficult times”
The day my husband Bill and I found out we were likely going to lose our twin boys late in our pregnancy, I twisted on the hospital bed and Bill called my mother. Orderlies wheeled me into an operating room for a last-ditch attempt to stop my early labor. Our twins were delivered later that night, stillborn.
The first thing I saw when I came out of the anesthesia and was out of recovery was my husband and, standing next to him, my mother. She stayed with us for forty-eight hours in the hospital room, at one point even curling herself into the narrow bed with me as I shook and sobbed with grief.
A few months later, while visiting my parents I stopped to cry in the hallway. My mother heard me and came to stand next to me. She lifted my face so I would have to look at her eyes and said, “There will be joy after this pain”. I stared at her, knowing she believed the words she was speaking and yet unable to fathom a way that they possibly could be true.
After the twins’ death and the ensuing two years of IVF, miscarriage, and failure, my body hurt from the grief and I struggled daily with the pull to shut down the desires of my heart. During this time my mother continued to visit and call. When she asked, I would confess to feeling despair and name the nasty fears my mind offered daily: that I was broken, that I was a failure, that I would never have children. The fear and despair was real, but also, in large part thanks to my mother’s presence and unwavering faith in Life being good, I also felt hope.
Neither she nor I had any idea of the experience that awaited us three years from that moment in the hallway, one that started with a wild idea on the part of my mother—an offer to be the surrogate for our child at the age of sixty. We did not know that this seemingly crazy plan would bring a gorgeous, healthy boy—the child my husband and I wanted so badly—into the world, or that she would make a little bit of history in the process (my mother became one of the first grandmother surrogates and the oldest woman in Illinois to give birth).
I’ve heard of Sufi masters who reach a point at which they no longer differentiate between suffering and joy—emotion is just energy- no one more desirable than the other. I am not enlightened in this way. If given a choice, I will take joy over suffering every time. But I will not deny the gifts of the love I have received in the moments of crisis. During those seven years of trying and “suffering,” friends brought over homemade soup and held our hands, doctors tried new solutions, fertility researchers pioneered advancements, and one night, a week after our miscarriage, my husband got onstage with a band he’d reassembled from his early post-college days and played me a song that further opened my heart.
And my mother. My mother and I evolved from a polite call once a week to two women who held hands and jumped together into unfamiliar territory. While there we found courage and honesty; started to be able to speak the hardest truths while looking in each other’s eyes.
These demonstrations of love are real enough to me that I can concede a fraction to what those sufi mystics claim. The moment in the hallway, my husband’s voice going hoarse from singing, the collective whallop of cheering from the delivery team the night we heard our son’s first cry- one that signaled the completion of and made worth it the anguish of the past seven years- are some of the moments of the greatest aliveness I have ever tasted.
Read more about Sara Connell's "incredibly moving story of surrogacy and how it created a bond like no other between a mother and daughter" in her book, Bringing in Finn.
In February 2011, 61-year-old Kristine Casey delivered the greatest gift of all to her daughter, Sara Connell: Sara’s son, Finnean. At that moment, Kristine—the gestational carrier of Sara and her husband Bill’s child—became the oldest woman ever to give birth in Chicago. Bringing in Finn: An Extraordinary Surrogacy Story tells this modern family’s remarkable surrogacy story.
After trying to conceive naturally without success, Sara and her husband Bill dedicated years to a variety of fertility treatments—but after Sara lost a third pregnancy (including the loss of twins at twenty-two weeks), they started to give up their hope. When Kristine offered to be their surrogate, they were shocked; but Kristine was clear that helping Sara become a mother felt like a calling, something she felt inspired to do.
In this achingly honest memoir, Connell recounts the tragedy and heartbreak of losing pregnancies; the process of opening her heart and mind to the idea of her sixty-one-year-old mother carrying her child for her; and the profound bond that blossomed between mother and daughter as a result of their unique experience together.
Bringing in Finn is the true story of a couple who wanted nothing more than to have a family and a mother who would do anything for her daughter. After unsuccessfully trying to conceive naturally, years of fertility treatments, miscarriage and a late term loss of twins, Sara and Bill Connell were emotionally and financially depleted and at a loss as to how they could have a family. When Sara’s mother Kristine offered to be their surrogate, the three embark on the journey that would culminate in Finnean’s miraculous birth and complete a transformation of their at-one-time strained mother-daughter relationship.
Paperback: 336 Pages
Publisher: Seal Press (October 8, 2013)
Twitter hashtag: #BIFinn
Bringing in Finn is available as a print and e- book at Amazon.
More about Sara Connell:
Sara Connell is an author, speaker, and life coach with a private practice in Chicago. She has appeared on Oprah, Good Morning America, NPR, The View, FOX News andKatie Couric. Sara's writing has been featured in: The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, Psychobabble, Evolving Your Spirit, and Mindful Metropolis magazines. Her first book, Bringing in Finn; an Extraordinary Surrogacy Story (Sept 4, 2012 Seal Press), was nominated for Book of the Year 2012 by Ellemagazine.
Sara’s Website: http://www.saraconnell.com
Sara’s Blog: http://www.saraconnell.com/
Sara on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/
Sara’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/