Do you have any advice for becoming a surrogate?

Guest post by Laura
Surrogate Pregnancy card by SurroSisterDesign

I am very heavily considering becoming a gestational surrogate: I have had two pregnancies, of which both were a total boring cake walk and both deliveries were quick and easy. I had someone mention that I’m built for having babies, and I did enjoy being pregnant very much.

I have thought about becoming a surrogate for many years now, and at one point, even started talking to a recipient couple. I read posts about women suffering from miscarriage after miscarriage, or never getting pregnant to begin with, or gay couples unable to father or adopt a child, and it literally has brought me to tears at times. Then I think: I have the ability to give these couples what they so desperately want, and as far as I’m concerned, in a fairly easy manner, too.

My husband seems to be on board with it, yet I get negative feedback from a lot of people about how difficult it will be in the end, yet none of them have ever been in that situation. I have donated my eggs three times already, and am interested in doing more. I have put a lot of thought into the process, but any input and resources would be appreciated!

Comments on Do you have any advice for becoming a surrogate?

  1. This is something I’ve very interested in as well, though it’s not an option for me. Let me start with congratulating you on wanting to do this and caring about other people enough to put yourself through additional pregnancies.

    I get the impression you’re making this decision with a lot of facts. There are tons of sites with that information. This blog is a good place to go too: http://someoneelsesbaby.blogspot.com/
    She’s done gestational surrogacy a few times, so you can get lots of info from that.

    It’s not as easy as traditional pregnancy, since you have to endure a lot more tests and drugs and you run the risk of multiple fetuses. One thing you may not know that’s kind of a duh thing that I never thought about: While trying to get pregnant, you can’t have sex. So that sucks.

    But if this is something you want to do, you should do it! Do research (loooots of research) and start working out (if you don’t already). Healthy BMI is essential to most surrogacy agencies. I would definitely recommend going through an agency. You may also want to look into getting a lawyer of your own. If people think you’re making the wrong choice, but you and your husband think you’re making the right choice, then screw everyone else.

    • Can’t have sex at all or can’t have unprotected intercourse?

      If the problem is the risk of conception, then intercourse usig condoms, oral sex and other things that don’t involve sperm getting near your eggs seem like they should be fine.

      • I would assume it depends on your contract and your agency, but I would also assume oral sex is fine. Not sure about using condoms though. It’s probably less risky with gestational surrogacy than traditional. Either way, messing with your own sex life for someone else’s kid is a pretty big sacrifice in my book lol.

        • But I’d imagine that penetrative sex using dildo or fingers is probably not advised post transfer either. There is even opinion that orgasm is thought to be risky very close to transfer.

          There is masses of debate (see link for starters) about sex, penetrative or otherwise pre-or post transfer (for a variety of reason not just conception with wrong sperm) and it’s ultimately a decision for the woman herself (and partner if relevant), but a surrogate pregnancy involves other stakeholders for want of a better word. I’d imagine it must be one (difficult) thing to be making choices trying to get the best result for you and your own baby growing inside you but another when your choices about your body affect someone else’s baby, everything about your physical life must become a subject for debate with your clients. This time it’s not just your parents or friends who have an opinion of everything you do, it’s someone who is paying you. I take my hat off to the women managing that, serious people skills!

          http://ivf-info.org/ivf-and-sex-1

          • What I have been told is that fingers are okay. I did not ask about dildos, since it probably won’t come up for me and my partner, but that is a good thing to ask. The period of time in which penetrative sex is not allowed is only a few weeks, some time before implantation, and some time after. To me, it’s not a whole lot different than that period of time after birth where my partner and I could not have sex. Or the first trimester when I just really didn’t want to. There are other ways to show affection and physical closeness during those six to ten weeks, and having spent most of our lives single, we certainly know how to go a few weeks without having sex. I mean, shoot, I once went like 988 weeks in a row with no sex!

            There is a chance of being restricted from sex for the full 40 (give or take) weeks of pregnancy during any pregnancy (it’s called pelvic rest), due to certain complications, but the risk of that is no higher in a surrogacy than in any other IVF pregnancy. I don’t think the risk is much higher in IVF than it is with any other form of conception. Chances are that for the vast majority of surrogacies, sex will be perfectly safe for the majority of the pregnancy. There are things that can make the complications that could require pelvic rest more likely, for example, having had a previous cesarean makes placenta previa more likely, and placenta previa can sometimes require pelvic rest, but these are things any woman considering any pregnancy should understand.

            The long and short of it is that pelvic rest for the entirety of a surrogate pregnancy is not in any way required, unless you have a complication that necessitates it. The period of time in which sex is forbidden is only a few weeks. To me, a few weeks without sex is kind of a bummer, but totally worth it an doable for the experience, and my partner is totally on board. I think he is even a little excited for the opportunity to get creative.

  2. I’d say to give some thought in advance to hard issues that might come up. It would be good to know where you stand and communicate that in writing to be sure that the biological parents are on the same page.

    I’m thinking of a recent case where the fetus had Trisomy 21. The parents wanted to terminate and the surrogate refused, moving to a state that had weak parental rights. (Which suggests another avenue to research: what are the laws in your state about surrogacy?) You don’t have to have any particular position on an issue like that, but you should know which position you do have and communicate it to the parents hiring you.

      • Natasia, in some states, surrogacy contracts are uneforcable, and in others they might only be partially enforcable. In the case Megan mentions, the parents and surrogate actually DID have a contract that provided that in the case of fetal defect, the surrogate would abort. However, that provision is facially invalid, because requiring somebody to undergo a medical procedure violates personal autonomy laws, so there was no legal way to compel the surogate to do anything. A contract is NOT a safeguard against situations like these by any means, because there are intervening laws and precedents.

        My advice would be for any potential surrogate to get in touch with an attorney who has knowledge and background in reproductive law. The couple hiring a surrogate will often have their own attorney; the surorgate should afford herself the same courtesy. You also seriously need to know the laws in your state – are surrogacy contracts even enforcable? What parts?

        My second piece of advice is to get a contract that is as SPECIFIC as humanely possible. Most surrogacy contracts are written very generally, and that creates problems. For example, I once encountered a woman whose surrogacy experience was quite bad, because the parents constantly threatened her over her choice to sometimes eat non-organic foods, not attend prenatal exercise classes of their choosing, etc. Spell out EXACTLY what you feel is important. A general contract, usually, is a lousy contract. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

      • But your contract may or may not be enforceable in your area, or where the commissioning parents live. Laws on reproductive technology have generally not been updated evenly everywhere.

  3. I commented on the fb post but thought I would comment here as well “when I got pregnant with my surrobaby my boys were 1 and 2. Surrogacy isn’t something people talk about often and while I knew surrogacy existed I guess I hadn’t given it much though until probably when I saw the movie Baby Mama. While I know my situation is nothing like that movie it kind of planted a seed of hey they is something I could do. I went through an agency and that is how I met the parents. I had an amazing experience I was very fortunate to have such amazing intended parents. No I never wanted to keep the baby. That is probably the most common question I get or “is it hard giving the baby away” something along those lines. I always explain it like this, he was never my baby, he isn’t genetically mine. It is like baby sitting, but to the extreme since he is inside my body. I am going to take care of him for awhile and when he is ready he will go BACK to his parents. I am not giving him away, I am giving him back. Because to give him away would imply that he was in someway mine. I was not sad to be coming home “empty handed” I was glad. I didn’t want any more children at the time I was relieved to be able to go home and sleep(as much as my children would allow) and just get back to my regular life. The parents and I developed a friendship along the way and I am glad we did I love getting to see updates about him and see pictures of him on facebook but never once have I regretted my decision to be a surrogate.”

    I would suggest your do as much research as you can learn about the process and have an in depth conversation with your SO to really see how you both feel about it.

  4. Just wanted to say what a beautiful gesture you are thinking of. There is no more precious gift you can give a family. I have a friend who was a surrogate twice (for the same couple) and they are now blessed with two wonderful children.

  5. Thank you everyone! I think my biggest fear is the legal stuff. I’m not scared of another pregnancy or about giving back (good terminology! Lol) the baby. Contracts don’t worry me, but all of the legal “what if”s do. I’m not even sure if I could afford a lawyer.

    • If you go through an agency, they handle all of the legality… if you want to do this privately, there is a lot more legality to it. I did mine privately, and it went great but it could have gone really bad if anyone had freaked out during the process (including me)

    • My friend is a surrogate, and the agency she went through pays for her to have her own lawyer. Just about all the costs are put up through the agency, or reimbursable somehow. She loves it (and will give birth in another monthish) but says that legally its a huge pain and is run more like a business. While the parents are nice and all, the agency can be sort of a headache since the surrogate is treated as a walking uterus, so to speak. A lot of surrogate agencies love Californians, I guess, because of the laws for adoption/surrogacy situations. My friend lives in CA but the agency is in NY, and they flew her out for testing several times before she was impregnated. Its been interesting, though, listening to her talk about it… she really feels similar to the post about how the baby is not/never been hers, so doesn’t feel there will be an issue giving it up.

  6. I’m one of the would-be parents who would love you to do this – we had many, many miscarriages and had no chance at adoption because my partner already had kids (we’re in the UK) – but last year we found a lovely surrogate through an agency and we are now in the first trimester of our pregnancy! After ten years to finally be able to enjoy planning for a family is amazing and you would be giving a gift that is more precious than you can ever imagine…although it sounds like you have a strong understanding and empathy already which is a great start. From our experience find yourself a good agency, get a proper contract (in the UK they are not enforceable but you get one anyway as then there is a “moral” understanding for both sides) and wait to find would-be parents that you feel a connection with, as that’s what gets you, and them, through the difficult times. Our agency also puts surrogates in touch with each other so newbies can learn from those who’ve done it before – and all the things you’re saying sound like the things that our surrogate has said. Until I met our surrogate I could never imagine someone doing this for someone else (and I say that as someone who spends her whole life helping other people) but it gives a whole new meaning to the word generous and we’re never going to be able to thank her enough. Go for it!

  7. I’m doing a surrogacy soon! We have to wait until its been a year since my last tattoo, and my daughter has to be weaned for 3 months, so we’ll begin the testing then IVF in February. We will not be using my egg, we will be implanting already fertilized eggs that belong to the couple. I’m super excited.
    There are a lot of naysayers out there and you just have to ignore them. They’ll get over their issues. I don’t think it’s going to be super hard (hopefully this pregnancy will be as easy as my first two), because I know the baby is not mine, genetically or in any other way, and I’ve developed a relationship with the family. But what’s easy for me may not be for someone else, and that’s okay. I don’t project my feelings onto others if I can help it, but not everyone is that enlightened. When people tell you how hard it will be, what they are really saying is how hard it would be for them. You are not them.
    I wish you the best of luck with your surrogacy journey!

  8. I don’t have any experience with surrogacy, but I imagine that people are reacting negatively based on the fact that it would be hard for THEM. You have better information with which to judge how hard it will be for you than someone else who has never been a surrogate.

  9. I am a TS traditional surrogate (i am using my egg) and my advice would be think it through, it is emotionally draining and takes a lot of time. Also to have something to look forward to at the end of the journey e.g a holiday or evening course etc that way giving the baby to it’s parents won’t be as hard as your have wonderful experiences of you own to look forward to. It is a unique fantastic adventure to go on and worth the ride.

  10. I was a traditional surrogate (my egg) rather than a gestational, so I can’t say a lot about the medical side, but I know what you’re talking about with the negative feedback from people. Whenever someone finds out I was a surrogate (no matter if they’re a friend or a stranger) the first reaction is “Wow, cool” then “I could never do that” then “Wasn’t it hard to give the baby up?” ALWAYS. They always have those negative feelings that it must have been hard to give up this baby I grew. By the way, you can read my story here: http://offbeatfamilies.com/2012/09/best-friends-surrogate

    For me, it wasn’t at all. I knew this little baby was theirs from the moment of conception. and it was wonderful, amazing and beautiful. I’m so glad I could be a part of making their family. If you really want to do this, and you’ve done all the research and you feel it would be a good thing for you… I would suggest doing it. It is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done ever.

  11. I have never been a surrogate, though it seems that many of the surrogacy-only ideas have been touched upon in the responses. What I am is a proud birth mother, and I feel I can give some insight into those “how it will be in the end” questions.

    Crazy pregnancy hormones always tend to be a bit crazier when the baby is born. Pair that with the body’s natural reactions to giving birth – milk coming in, desperate to be expressed, was a big issue for me – and there is a sense of something being off with not having the baby with you. For me, it had it’s difficulties, but I knew – despite the naysayers (the worst was someone at my church, of all places, tell me “if you didn’t want him, you should have just aborted”) – that I was doing a good thing for everyone involved. I picked well with the couple, people who were who they presented themselves to be, and consistent updates helped reiterate the point that this is a WONDERFUL thing. I’ve heard it described as the happiest pain you can feel.

    I’ve lent myself out to adoption agencies as someone who’s been a birth mom and can describe the process and offer up advice, I think my basic advice will work decently here:

    Know what you want as far as contact, compensation, if you will be pumping breast milk for baby, etc.

    Be 100% honest with any potential couples.

    Pick out a couple with the same expectations. Also, the best couples are the ones that have no real expectations of the outcome of the pregnancy (for instance, if a couple is only wanting a singleton, female child with no discernible defects there might be issues should the process result in multiples, male, or with a random birth defect – I had a bowel atresia (now detectable in ultrasound) which required surgery when I was about 36 hours old and a short NICU stay, it’s not genetic, but required a later surgery (and will likely require more surgeries) due to a build up of scar tissue. Working in perinatology, I’ve seen that exact birth defect be a “deal breaker” for a couple.

    Know that most legal documents are open to interpretation prior to them being signed. If you have an issue with any portion of the contract, even if it’s simply muddy wording that you want crystal clear, have your lawyer change it. If the changes break the deal, they weren’t right for you.

    Just remember that you are pursuing an amazing thing, and when you do it, you will be an angel, a saving grace, the most amazing person to those two people until the baby is born (at which point, the baby will be most amazing person, but it’s pretty easy to be okay with that). Don’t let people who don’t have any sort of experience with surrogacy sway you. It’s a happy, astounding, WONDERFUL thing that you are planning. In my son’s adoptive parents, I gained more family, which is exactly as I had hoped and, seven years later, they haven’t let me down.

  12. I’m on the other side of surrogacy, we started insems for a traditional surrogacy when our surrogate announced that she changed her mind leaving us distrustful and heartbroken, it’s our only option to have a child as well, so my only advice is ‘be 100% sure before you do it’.

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