Michelle Buteau is beyond thankful for her surrogate who helped bring her now-20-month-old twins, Hazel and Otis, into existence.
But that doesn’t mean she was too keen on the idea that motherhood would look different for her. In last week’s issue of PEOPLE, Buteau revealed how she and her husband, Gijs van der Most, were “at the end of [their] road in terms of” Buteau “trying” to carry a baby, having gone through in vitro fertilization and its physical and mental effects.
“My husband said, ‘You know, I want you back. You are so unhappy and just physically wrecked,’ ” says Buteau, 43.
And while “surrogacy is not something you go into IVF thinking, ‘This is what I’m going to be doing,’ ” Buteau recognizes that it’s “so beautiful that that is even a choice,” even though it was “scary.”
“I didn’t know anyone that did it,” Buteau says. “I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. I just researched. I found an agency through my doctor where these women are just walking angels on Earth who find helping someone make their dreams come true the best thing ever.”
“I’m just forever thankful,” adds the mother of two. “I text [my surrogate] all the time, [with] pictures. And I’m just like, ‘Thank you so much.’ “
Buteau also revealed how the one part of infertility that was “really was hard” (“and anybody that has had a miscarriage can understand,” she notes) was “when your friends are pregnant at the same time and then you experience a miscarriage and then you see that kid grow up and always think in the back of your mind, ‘Oh, my kid would have been this age.’ “
“Just seeing your friends in general with kids or anything that you are yearning for. It’s very hard to be around,” she adds.
“That was even hard for me because I’m not a jealous person. I’m happy for people, but this was a new side of me where I was like, ‘I need to be happy for you, but at a distance.’ “
And when she was able to hold her babies for the first time, Buteau shared: “Now I know why people faint. It isn’t because there’s blood or whatever. It’s because it really is a miracle.”
“You can imagine what they look like but it doesn’t mean anything until you see them and you’re like, ‘Who is this little person? I’m so glad I got to meet this soul,’ ” she recalls.
Buteau says how she “always wanted kids,” an once she met her husband, she knew she had a winner despite believing she would never get married.
“It’s so crazy when you find a partner that you actually like that is good for you that makes you want to feel like you can do anything,” Buteau says. “And that makes you feel like you want to also be a better person.”
“And then having kids with them, it was just like ‘Good night. Good night, everybody.’ And I ended up like, ‘There’s not enough champagne to celebrate what we got going on.’ “
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.