Surrogacy Part One: How I became a gestational carrier

February 7 2011 | Guest post by A.M.

After the post a few weeks ago from a wannabe-surrogate, we got a wonderful submission from a woman who's in the middle of her process of surrogacy. Given the interest in the subject, I was stoked to have a chance to share A.M.'s story. -Ariel

Anticipation
Photo by LD Cross.
I am a surrogate. Gestational carrier. "Just the oven." And I love it.

My interest in surrogacy began years ago, when a couple I knew was fighting a long battle against infertility and losing. I was pregnant with my second son at the time and I remember thinking as soon as he was born, I would love nothing more than to be a surrogate for them to carry the baby waiting for for years. They eventually adopted a daughter shortly before my son was born and the idea was put on the back burner.

Then, when I was pregnant with my daughter, a close friend was also pregnant at the same time — but as a surrogate. I followed her journey closely and intently. It was after meeting the couple she carried for that I knew this was something I definitely wanted to do. Watching two people become a family of four and seeing the complete love and appreciation in their eyes was nothing short of amazing.

As time went on, surrogacy was always on my mind. I'm a great candidate: I am good at being pregnant. I have routine pregnancies and uncomplicated deliveries. I like — even love — being pregnant. My husband and I are done having children of our own. My husband enjoys me when I'm pregnant. And the biggest reason: my kids are simply my life.

I know many moms can relate to that. I love my children so fiercely and can't fathom life without them. But less tangible is the idea of wanting a child with every fiber of your being and simply not being able to make that happen. I conceived easily and do not even pretend to understand what infertile or same-sex couples experience. But I know that longing for a child, and I know how devastated I would be if that dream could never become a reality. I wanted to help.

I should note here that there are two types of surrogacy: traditional, in which the carrier uses her own egg, and gestational, which involves using eggs from the intended mother or a donor. I knew for sure that I wanted to be a gestational surrogate and desired no genetic connection between myself and the baby.

So, when my daughter was about six months old, I began the process. I should note here that there are two types of surrogacy: traditional, in which the carrier uses her own egg, and gestational, which involves using eggs from the intended mother or a donor. I knew for sure that I wanted to be a gestational surrogate and desired no genetic connection between myself and the baby. I also knew that I felt more comfortable using an agency rather than doing things independently. Luckily, since I had a friend who was a surrogate, choosing the agency was easy. I sent in my application and crossed my fingers.

Applying with the agency triggered an avalanche of truly time-intensive work. Agencies are very thorough, and for good reason. IPs (intended parents) want a surrogate who is going to give them the best possible chance at a healthy pregnancy, safe birth and financially smooth and stable journey. That means they want the cream of the crop, so to speak. I supplied medical records, took a psychological exam, completed a medical screening, and both my husband and I underwent background checks and interviews with a psychologist. Saying it was stressful would be an understatement.

After about two months, I got the long-awaited news that I was finally accepted as a carrier in their program and the next step was matching. Oh, the book I could write about the matching experience and how incredible it was to feel so connected to someone I had never met. I will summarize it by saying that I was matched with the most awesome gay couple. Two men who share a deep desire to be parents and look forward to enriching this child's life in every way possible.

I did not originally think I would carry for a same-sex couple, but after talking to them, our fates were sealed. They are who I was meant to do this for and they deserve to be parents just as much as anyone else.

I did not originally think I would carry for a same-sex couple, but after talking to them, our fates were sealed. They are who I was meant to do this for and they deserve to be parents just as much as anyone else. It hurts me to hear people say that they should "just adopt" without understanding how difficult or impossible that can be for a gay couple, or that they may also have the inherent desire to have biological children just like any heterosexual person.

The next step in our journey was to actually get to transfer day. The guys had chosen an egg donor and I would be doing IVF in order to conceive a baby or babies created from the donor eggs and my Intended Father's sperm. This is another seemingly never-ending process. In reality ours was short compared to some — the time from match to transfer was about five months, and thank the stars that it worked on the first try. Others aren't so lucky and will go through two, three or even more transfers before getting pregnant, if they ever do.

I won't lie, the process is hard, physically and emotionally. Anyone who has been through an IVF cycle can attest to that. I was on all sorts of hormones and injections for months on end. It can wreak havoc on you if you let it but I fought hard to stay positive and enjoy the process. We went through a canceled cycle, two different egg donors, poor quality embryos and a crash transfer to get the remaining three inside me before they expired in the petri dish. Then? We crossed our fingers and hoped like mad.

And after all that? More waiting. Waiting is definitely a common theme in surrogacy.

  1. Holy shamoly I can hardly imagine. What a wonderful thing she is doing for those men! Can't wait to read the rest tomorrow.

  2. What a great gift you're giving this couple! I am in the beginning stages of a gestational surrogacy. I have the contract in my hands for review and then once the insurance is covered we're ready to transfer. I cannot wait to hear your next installment. It's not like I can just talk to my friends about this sort of thing. lol! Take care and thanks for being so selfless!

  3. I wondered what had happened to you, I had been reading your blog to the point where you had chosen a couple and then the blog poofed. I'm glad to see that things are working out!

    • Thanks! Yeah, I had to give up blogging publicly due to a privacy clause in my contract. Too many people knew my identity on my blog and I had to be respectful of everyone's privacy. I'm glad I can share here though in a mostly anonymous outlet. (But please don't mention my blog name or address!) 🙂

  4. I think that it is wonderful what you are doing for the couple… you are truly giving them the greatest gift! My sister-in-law was born with a heart defect and had to have a pacemaker put in at the ripe old age of 25, so she had a 70% chance of not living through the pregnancy alone, much less the actual labor process. (She is now 32, and her and my brother have been married for 8 years). She and my brother desperately wanted their own biological child(ren), and decided to give surrogacy a try. They used a friend who had done it before, and after 2 failed attempts, selected a gestational surrogate from an agency. Three times a charm later, I have two beautiful paternal twin nieces who are now 8 months old… and one of them has their surrogate's middle name 🙂 Thank you again for making parenting possible for those who cannot do it on their own!

  5. You really shed some light on this. I have to admit, I've definitely wondered, "How could someone do that??" And while I have always respected the process, it has also always kind of puzzled me.

    It's a wonderful thing you are doing for this couple. I hope you are feeling well and enjoying the pregnancy.

    I'm so happy there are people like you in the world!

  6. Incredible. I have thought about researching being a surrogate/gestational carrier, if not for the mere fact that I feel like I need to "pay it forward." I conceived my wife's and my daughter through our sperm donor's selfless gift, and she is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I know surrogacy is (physically) WAY more of a commitment then sperm donation, but both end with the same amazing gift to IPs.

    I'm not sure I "could" do it, though. My daughter ended up being an emergency c-section, and (maybe you could tell me?) I'm not sure VBAC or a possible repeat-c "looks good" on an application. Also, that I'm not sure I could go in knowing that I'd possibly have to emotionally endure another c-section for a child that's not "mine." If that makes sense?

    You are so amazingly selfless; I can't wait to read more!!! Thank you for sharing your story with us (and best wishes for the rest of your pregnancy!).

    • I have great respect for sperm and egg donors, they are just as important and special as surrogates!

      Most agencies have no problem with a previous c-section. Mine in particular allows up to two previous sections, I believe. So that shouldn't hinder you if you do decide to pursue it further. But, definitely consider that there could be other sacrifices you may have to make that could be worse than a c-section (bedrest, carrying multiples, loss of reproductive organs, just to name a few). Surrogates really do have to be willing to risk their lives and do almost anything for their surrobabe and IPs. It's a big commitment but has huge rewards.

      If you do decide to pursue it I wish you tons of luck! But if you decide it's not for you, don't feel bad about that choice or like you aren't "paying it forward," because I think simply being grateful to your donor and being an awesome mom to your daughter is payment enough. 🙂

  7. Sometimes, I despair at how mean human beings can be – and then I read a story like this, and it fills me full of hope. What an incredible gift to give … my hat is off to you. Thank you for brightening the world with your light.

  8. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for bringing up the "why don't you just adopt?!" issue! It's one I've heard from well-meaning friends and family (not to mention jerks on the Internet) and it drives me batty.

  9. Loved reading this!!Fantastic! I just finished a gestational surrogacy for a couple who dealt with infertility/IVF/miscarriage/surrogate miscarriage for 7 years, before we were matched. Surrogacy is an amazing gift to give to someone, and the moment you delivery the baby and get to say "meet your son/daughter" is a feeling you will treasure forever!! Congratulations on your pregnancy, and to the new soon to be parents!!

  10. I loved reading your post! I am in the process of applying to be a gestational carrier as we speak. I am so excited to past this initial part and start the matching!

  11. Have you ever spoke with someone who surrogated for a family member? I find this so fascinating and ultimately selfless:-) I am curious if the same applies for a family member as for a "matched".
    Thank you!

  12. Fantastic venture…and I'm proud to say…I'm right there with you! Matched with my IP's about a year ago. It's been rough, many ups and downs, but I'm so excited. I can't wait to help bring more joy into their family. It's such a blessing.
    Glad to know you are out there doing and feeling the same way.
    You are amazing!

  13. This is so incredible, I haven't had kids yet, but in theory would love to be able to do something like this for someone else.
    I was wondering, what were the reactions like from people in your social circle when they heard you were a surrogate motehr?

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