Sarah—already the mother of three with her husband, Jason—felt fortunate to have conceived easily and wanted to help others who couldn't. She updated Hope on her progressing pregnancy, sending text messages about how she was feeling that week, and encouraged Hope to make many decisions. Sarah would often say, "It's your baby, not mine."
Those nine months weren't always easy. Hope still felt pangs of jealousy and sadness when Sarah—not Hope—felt the surreal wonder of the baby's first kick. But mostly, both women considered themselves blessed to be part of this miracle of life.
Finally, on August 27, 2008, Hudson Milo entered the world.
"All the emotion came out and I was crying and it was all being released in that experience," Hope says of the delivery. "Here was this woman going through this tough experience just for us. She really changed all of our lives."
Once she held her baby, the details of how Hudson came to be no longer mattered. Hope understood now that this was the only journey she could have walked.
"I really do believe that it all makes sense," she said weeks after his birth. "Because this is the son I was meant to have. … He has come from such a beautiful example of humanity."
A Year Later
Hudson recently celebrated his first birthday surrounded by the people who made his life possible. His grandparents took pictures, his parents presented gifts. And the cake—which Hudson devoured with glee—was made by Sarah and Jason.
They stood in the background, happy to quietly watch this picture-perfect moment unfold before their eyes. They are there for each other now, and will be a part of each other's lives forever. Their bond is so deep, there was little question that they would try this partnership again: Sarah is now pregnant with Hope and Chad's second child.
Hope continues to counsel couples through the myriad of fertility options to find what's right for them. For those who are interested, she also helps them dig deeper. She encourages them to face their fears, let go of the details and strive to discover the courage and self-love that will not only serve them now, but once a child does enter their lives.
She wants all women to know what she's discovered: There is value in the struggle. "The bottom line is that when we have a hole in our life for a child," Hope says. "It's a very real sense of loneliness and emptiness. Now I can really say, from my whole being, that this hole will be filled, and it will feel right."
Interested in surrogacy? What you should know—and where to start
After working a dozen years as a newspaper reporter, Lisa Applegate served as a communications consultant in South Africa before becoming a freelance writer in Chicago. A regular writer for Chicago Parent magazine and contributor to Parents , she investigates changes in healthcare policy and captures personal stories of challenge and triumph.