“My parents were born in Spain and came to Brazil when they were young. I was born here in Rio de Janeiro, but I spent my life there visiting our family. I also lived in Spain for a year when I was nine years old. And there I met Albino .I don’t remember exactly when, I have the feeling that we’ve known each other all our lives. I always thought she was beautiful, but having something with her never crossed my mind. We were friends and nothing else.
I was a very honest girl, I liked playing with boys more, I was a bit wild. I never considered myself very pretty or sweet. But even though I didn’t make daughter dolls, like many girls, I always had a strong desire to be a mother. And everything was fine in my head: I would have two children.
In 2010, at the age of 32, I realized that it wasn’t going to be that easy. During a routine examination, I learned that I had a cervical wound. My doctor, Dr. Célia Regina, asked if I would prefer to have her uterus removed. He explained to me that the wound was something dangerous because it could have been worse. I thought he was crazy. Ending the chance to remove the uterus and get pregnant? It wasn’t an opportunity for me.
I chose to cauterize the organ. I knew from then on that if I became pregnant, I would have a dangerous pregnancy – with this procedure, the doctor explains, it becomes more difficult to “hold” the baby. But I was determined. If I had to lie in bed for nine months to avoid abortion, this would be it. I did cauterization and started monitoring every four months. She was unmarried at the time, had no idea how to have a baby. I decided to live one day.
“I knew my 4-year-old was a trans girl”
Two years later, on a trip to Spain in August 2012, I met Albino again. And this time it was different, we finally got involved and stayed. I thought love was going to come to naught, it was going to be something for the holidays, it was temporary. After all, I lived here and he lived there. But when I came back to Brazil, we started talking to each other every day, and something powerful was emerging between us. He came to see me in March of the following year. We were already very much in love.
“When I found cancer, the doctor gave me a month to get rid of the eggs. I would have to race against time.”Anita Moreira Castro
I bled in one of our sexes. I knew there was something wrong. Since I did the regular exams properly, I was calm, I thought it would be an easy solution. I was wrong. The diagnosis was clear: uterine cancer. When I received the news, my blood pressure was so low that I thought I would lose it. When I was able to speak, my first reaction was to ask, ‘How do I get my eggs?’ I wanted to know how long it took me to make sure I could be a mother before starting cancer treatment. The doctor gave me a month. I would have to race against time.
I was pretty sure my treatment would work. The saddest moment was giving my new mother. She is the housewife who lives for her children, she knew it would not be easy for her. That day was the only time I let her cry, and we did it together. I was strong because of him. To me, that’s what was happening to me, it’s because I’ve been able to overcome it.
“I killed a man who tried to rape my 14-year-old daughter”
I spent a month in consultation with an oncologist and a human reproduction specialist. I took hormones to stimulate ovulation. I could only make one withdrawal, the number of eggs I got would be my number of chances. The retreat itself was tricky. Because my cancer was in the uterus, it couldn’t be done from the bottom up, it had to be done through the abdomen. It was a bigger challenge, but I was ready to try anything. I didn’t want to go through treatment without exhausting my chances of becoming a mother. We got five eggs. Not a big number, but it was something.
In the face of all this, I asked Albino to leave. I was already in Spain, I didn’t know what my emotions would be like when cancer treatment started, if I became the most unbearable person in the world. I didn’t know what my life was going to be like, I didn’t want to put myself in that situation. But he refused, he said there was no choice, we would be together. It’s clear to me that it was better to have someone by my side, holding hands, but it didn’t seem fair to me. Albino did not give up. She landed in Brazil in May and we got married in July, so she could stay here legally.
My treatment continued with chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions. Thank God my hair didn’t fall out. It sounds silly, but it made a difference. I looked in the mirror and didn’t see myself sick, which gave me more strength. I needed four months of treatment until I was free of cancer. I had an ulcer, I had a bleeding a few months later. But I was healed. And it was time to celebrate. We were married in church in March 2013. All our friends and family gathered for a double celebration. I spent two years without thinking about anything else, I wanted to rest.
“I found out my boyfriend got married a few hours after I gave up my kidney.”
So I decided to start dreaming again. But how do you get belly support? In Brazil, you can’t pay anyone to take your children. This is acceptable in some countries, but it is expensive and we would not be able to afford to spend so much money on it. Until then, I thought that only family members could be the belly of support. I also thought about asking my older sister, but she had no children, and that is a condition. All my cousins live in Spain. I really didn’t know what to do.
One day my mother, trying to help me, told me what I was going through with Bruna *, a woman who worked in her home for a few years and loved me very much. She was already the mother of two boys and was moved by my story. When my mother asked if it could be my child’s “oven,” Bruna agreed. He said he didn’t know exactly why, but he felt he needed to. As if it were a mission he was receiving, though he still didn’t quite understand it.
When I found out, it took me a while to figure it out. I was afraid it wasn’t true, how could God be so good to me? I’ve already discovered that you don’t have to be a family to have a supportive belly. What he can’t do is keep his money in check. In addition, it is necessary to have the consent of the Provincial Council of Medicine, and of course to cover all expenses during pregnancy and childbirth. Since I already had cancer and couldn’t really tolerate this baby, I was given permission to use a surrogate uterus. We did all the psychological assessments, organized the bureaucracy, and set out to try.
The first embryo transfer failed. We learned that Brown had inflammation of the endometrium and that is why her body was unable to hold the embryo. It took him a year of treatment. During that time, he also underwent a series of tests and accidentally discovered the onset of hereditary cirrhosis, the disease that killed his mother. Cirrhosis is a very silent disease, but as it has become known over time, it has been able to treat and cure itself. We saw in that moment that life really has a lot of surprises, everything is explained.
A year after the first, we started the second attempt. They were my last two eggs. I decided this would be my last chance. I wanted to expand both together. It’s a very difficult and tiring process, I didn’t want to repeat it again. One of the two embryos survived. I couldn’t believe it, my son was coming.
It was a pleasure to watch Bruno’s pregnancy, they were a great couple. I went to all the appointments I asked for: a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, a pregnancy nutritionist … Anyway, we went to five different doctors every month. She already had a stomach ache, so many people didn’t even realize she was pregnant. He chose to tell only the people closest to him that they did not think he was doing it for money.
“It’s not easy to see your child grow up in someone else’s womb, but the desire to be a mother was greater than anything.”Anita Moreira Castro
Matheus was born at the age of 36 weeks in October 2019. She came out of her womb and was delivered to us in the delivery room. It was an indescribable feeling to take me in my arms for the first time. Bruna was wonderful, she never considered Matheus her son. He was very happy to have done such a noble act for us, to have made such a great gesture of love. My gratitude to him was such, there was no room for jealousy.
Matheus spent five days at the ICU and I admit that I continued to delay taking him home. Actually, I was afraid of not knowing what to do with that child. But Matheus, as his name implies, is truly a “gift from God.” Gradually we began to adjust to our new life. He was never a working baby.
I am always grateful to Bruna for her solidarity. We keep in touch, he visits Matheus whenever he can. I know not everyone is ready to see their child grow up in someone else’s womb, but my desire to be a mother was much greater than anything. If our procedure did not go ahead, we would still be able to adopt it. It’s not, by the way, something I rule out for the future.
‘I fell in love with the doctor who treated me at the ICU’
I am very proud of my story, which started with an illness and ended with a child in his arms. I tell you all that I have done to help other women who do not know that there is a chance to become a mother through a caring belly, even with the help of a “stranger”. I would do it again to get here. Occasionally I look at Matheus and cry. It’s the biggest dream of my life. My dream has come true. ”
* fictional name