Dr. Vernette rested in her hospital bed, still a little out of it from naturally birthing two babies. Baby A came out head first. Baby B was breech.
“How do you feel?” I asked her.
“I feel complete“, Dr. Vernette answered simply.
Dr. Vernette is the mother to her own two littles, a practitioner in holistic health, and at that moment, a Black surrogate mother. I recently once heard this saying that went something like…Black women don’t adopt or become surrogates because we are too busy making our own babies. That may be true but for Dr. Vernette, there was a much bigger picture.
The Reality Of Abortion
At sixteen years old, Vernette became pregnant. Like most sixteen year olds, she was frightened and with pressure, she made the difficult decision to terminate her pregnancy. In the media, abortion is portrayed as this selfish act that women seem to do without much thought. While we are not here to take a stance on pro-life or pro-choice, we do want to shed light on how hard the decision is for a woman to make. In Vernette’s case, it was a choice that would stay with her for the rest of her life.
How do you find atonement when you harbor guilt for a choice made in your teens?
“I knew very early in motherhood that I wanted to be intentional about my healing process after my early termination at sixteen. I struggled with the fact I took life from my own body. I felt empty and ashamed,” Dr. Vernette admits.
“As I began to develop a more intimate relationship with Jehovah, this seed was planted in my heart. I wanted to give back. It became more and more clear that I would carry life for another. The puzzle pieces began to come together and even in present day, postpartum, God continues to call on me to be a vessel for the goodness of humanity. He is full of miracles. He has truly blessed me“.
I feel complete.
Dr. Vernette was matched with a couple in Israel and her journey began. She traveled between Georgia and California, underwent time-consuming evaluations and doctor appointments but through the entire process, she remained positive. Then, in January of 2018, she got the news that she was pregnant.
Dr. Vernette chose to stay very open about her journey. She posted about it on her Instagram account and kept her children in the know of what was happening. “Was everyone understanding?” I asked her one day. She told me they weren’t but she understood why they didn’t understand.
Surrogacy In Real Life
Surrogacy is already a hard concept to grasp for most. Many women claim they could not carry a baby for nine months only to hand it over to another family. It is even more unheard of in the Black community. In fact, the first African-American mother to give birth via surrogacy was Anna L. Johnson on September 19, 1990 (Source: Penn Law). Her case was controversial for many of the same reasons that most women say they couldn’t become surrogates – Anna bonded with her baby and didn’t want to give the child to the intended parents. Anna ended up losing the case and parental rights to the child.
For those that aren’t familiar with surrogacy, there are two types of surrogacy: Traditional (uses the mother’s egg) and Gestational surrogacy/carrier (Mother carries embryos only). Vernette had an embryo transfer, which is non surgical and non invasive. A catheter is used to implant the embryo on the lining of the uterus and from there, the mother is put on bedrest for up to twenty four hours for implantation to occur. The uterus will need to accept the embryos and a (hopefully) successful pregnancy is confirmed ten days later.
Like in Anna’s case, Dr. Vernette gave birth to twin babies, neither of which carried her genes. In fact, Baby A was born with blond hair and Baby B with reddish hair. Each of the babies belonged to one of their respected fathers. After birth, when asked if she wanted to hold the babies, Dr. Vernette initially declined.
For Dr. Vernette, she had come to terms with the surrogacy process well before pregnancy even took place. Surrogacy isn’t a flash thought. It takes much mental examination, preparation, and assurance to properly transpire.
What’s postpartum like after surrogacy? Dr. Vernette says:
“Outside of the occasional mood swing, I have been able to rest and take time to ease back into my routine of life – parenting two school aged littles, working with my patients to improve their well-being, investing in self-care practices, and doing life with my tribe. This is how I am built – to “do” life.”
Dr. Vernette expresses that she is grateful to be able to spend time with the new fathers and their surro twins before they return home to Israel. The goodbye process has been longer and more intimate than most because the amazing fathers are staying in town for a month post delivery. Their extended stay and openness to bond more has allowed their relationship to continue to grow as a family.
What’s next for Dr. Vernette?
“I will continue to free flow,” Dr. Vernette says. “In my world, nothing is impossible. My mind is always at work and I am in the process of rebranding myself. I believe this experience has opened many conversations that empower women to soar in their greatness and I want to focus my brand on empowering women through holistic self-care practices such as guided meditation, energy work, and movement therapy like Pilates and Yoga.
Photo Credit: Yeyo Photography