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Enlisting the help of a surrogate to bring her now-8-month-old daughter Blaze into the world was a "tough decision" initially for Kandi Burruss and husband Todd Tucker — but looking back, they "wouldn't change a thing."
"We were just trying to figure out like, okay, should we do this? How can you trust somebody with your most precious possession, your most precious gift … somebody that you barely know?" the singer and Real Housewives of Atlanta star says in the newest episode of Parents magazine's We Are Family podcast.
"But now that it's all said and done, I wouldn't change a thing. It was the best decision that we could have made," adds Burruss, 44.
The mother of three — who also shares 4½-year-old son Ace Wells with Tucker, 47, and is mom to 17-year-old daughter Riley — says that her surrogate, Shadina, had carried for another family before, and so she "was really teaching" them "a lot of things" about the process.
" 'Are we supposed to talk to her on a regular basis?' 'Do we not talk to her?' " Burruss recalls of some of the questions she and her husband had. "We just didn't really know about how much communication we should have. … I [didn't] want to seem annoying. But she always made us feel at ease. She always let us know that we never called too much [and] never was bothered by us reaching out. She always volunteered information — she's like, 'Oh, I'm feeling a bump today,' or 'Oh, this happened.' "
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Aside from figuring out the relationship with Shadina, Burruss had to field questions from well-meaning yet misguided loved ones who asked why she was turning to surrogacy, with one family member even going so far as to ask the Bravo star if she was "concerned [whether she was] going to have a bond with [her] child."
"It really hurt my feelings because you already know it's a hard decision to make, to go through a surrogate. But then you're making me feel bad because you're saying that I'm not even going to have a bond with my baby … being a woman who has birthed my previous children, [that] automatically was a concern of mine," she says. "Like, will me and Blaze have the same connection? So I didn't need somebody else chiming in saying that."
It didn't help to have people who "don't really know what you're going through" to "automatically think" that Burruss didn't want to be pregnant for vanity reasons, when in reality she had a "serious" surgery related to uterine fibroids that left scar tissue, inhibiting her ability to carry another baby.
"If you are a woman who is having physical issues, you may or may not share those with everyone," says the reigning Masked Singer champion. "[People] come up with all these [reasons] to [assume] why you need a surrogate."
"But what I will say is when Blaze got here, I didn't feel any less of a connection than I have with my previous children," Burruss adds. "I still feel super bonded when I come in the room. Blaze lights up — her smile is so huge when I walk in there — so it's still this same love, the same connection."
While Burruss "was dealing with a lot more guilt" at the beginning of Shadina's pregnancy, by her second trimester, she "was really starting to appreciate [her] surrogate" because of the physical toll pregnancy takes on the body.
"I had horrible heartburn when I was pregnant with Ace. And I told [Shadina] … 'They're from the same batch of embryos, Ace and Blaze. I don't know if you're going to experience this, but with Ace, I experienced some really, really bad heartburn,' " says the reality star. "The next day or two, she's like, 'Oh my God. It's starting, you're right.' And then from that point on, she had horrible heartburn for the rest of the pregnancy."
Milestones Burruss had to miss this time around like "seeing the baby move for the first time" and having a maternity photo shoot weren't "as bad," since she had experienced them with her previous children.
"Once I got comfortable, then I started really appreciating the fact that [Shadina] was doing the heavy lifting," she says.
For anyone else considering in vitro fertilization and/or surrogacy, Burruss advises, "I would definitely say go forward. The research is the main thing. And then you just gotta trust and believe and just go for it."
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