MY JOURNEY AS A GESTATIONAL CARRIER
First and foremost, how are you feeling in general, after recovering from your journey?
I delivered in early December and I’m feeling great. I worked up to my delivery date, and took a little more than 3 weeks off. It was a nice break, I got to spend some good time volunteering in the classrooms at my kids’ school. Getting a good night’s sleep immediately after delivery probably helped, but when there’s no baby to wake you up, getting good sleep isn’t an issue. I am dealing with some aches and pains from trying to get back into exercising. During this pregnancy, I walked roughly 12 miles a week, but laid off of all other fitness, so my muscles and joints are a little mad. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t a good idea, but it was a nice break from the early morning wake-ups, as I usually run or do videos at home before work.
What made you decide to pursue surrogacy in the first place?
I enjoyed being pregnant. I have three keepers, and had great pregnancies with each of them. I felt my maternal clock ticking. When I decided to start my surrogacy journey, I was going be turning 40 in less than 2 years. I knew I wasn’t done being pregnant, or being able to experience pregnancy, but I knew my family was complete at 3 children. I do not want to raise any more babies of my own. So it was now or never. I didn’t want to wake up at 50 and say, ‘Gosh, I would have liked to have helped a family, I wonder if I could have done surrogacy.’ So I decided I should at least try, get the ball rolling and see if I am even eligible to be a carrier, and so the journey began.
When you shared the news with them, how did your spouse/significant other, loved ones, friends, coworkers, etc. react?
Everyone I shared the good news with was very supportive. I only had one negative conversation; with a coworker who struggled with infertility and therefore does not have children.Surrogacy is not something many people, that I’d crossed paths with, had a connection too or even knew much about. People had heard of it, but only from a distance or in the movies. So to know someone that was actually being a surrogate, and helping a family grow their family, it was a surprise. I didn’t share the news with everyone, it was a gut feeling if I felt it was right to share. When I did though, people were genuinely happy and proud that I was helping another family.
What were your expectations before you began the process?
I don’t know. I wasn’t sure how the process even happened. I was a little nervous about the legality of it all, but the Surrogacy Center was so helpful. Questions answered and nothing left unturned.
I guess I was looking to experience the changing body with pregnancy again, and honestly, make a little money to help my children. Being a single mom, I want to be able to give them something for their future. In the end, it was so much more than that. Now that it’s done and over, I wish I would have jumped into surrogacy sooner. My youngest just turned 6, I could have helped a bunch of families grow their family. Hopefully my window isn’t closed though, and I’ll get the chance to help again in the near future.
Describe the matching process and how you felt when you first met your IPs in person:
With the help of the Surrogacy Center, the match process was very easy. They do the hard work; of matching the right people together. Initially, I was overlooked by two families, in the beginning of the journey I had an IUD in place, and the families were encouraged to pass if they didn’t want to be held up in their journey. I do feel all things happen for a reason, and my IP were an amazing choice. At first I was nervous to meet them…will they really like me, are we going to be a good fit, is this really happening !!?? The conversation started, and the decision was made before walking away from the table. I felt very comfortable with them and knew it was a good fit.
What was the most unexpected part of your journey? Is there anything that surprised you?
The hormone injections were interesting. I’m not sure what’s the best way to describe it, so I’ll go with interesting. Needles don’t really bother me. The first injection was fine, a little needle into the belly. But the second medication into the butt, the needle seemed gigantic! I pulled the cover off for the very first time, and I psyched myself out. ‘Oh, hell no!’ I had to have a friend give the injection the entire time. I was also worried the lumps that were forming in my butt would be there for the rest of my life. But they’ve disappeared. I gained weight right off the bat with the injections. Darn hormones!
I mentioned the legal process, I was surprised when all of that was wrapped up before the baby was born. But that was convenient to have that done prior to the birth.
It also surprised me to learn many GCs do not become pregnant on the first round. I feel very lucky we were fortunate to become pregnant the first try and broke out of the mold.
When I first saw the baby, and still now when I see pictures, it’s a little odd to think that that little baby, that looks NOTHING like me, came out of my body. WOW. The human body and science are pretty amazing.
Describe the pregnancy overall – did it match your previous pregnancy experience(s)? What, if anything, was different (other than the obvious fact you were carrying a baby for someone else)?
It was pretty much the same as my other 3 pregnancies. I did gain the most weight with this baby, about 60# !! A lot was water weight, but the baby was also big. I was all belly and lower half weight gain . If I had an apron on or my kids or a desk in front of me, you wouldn’t guess I was pregnant. My largest baby was 7# 12oz and my surro baby was 9# 5oz. She was a big girl ! There was the large weight gain, and I also dealt with some blood pressure issues. On a positive note, my Dr. did not think I was dealing with bp issues. I was always in a healthy pregnancy range, but it was just higher than my normal low bp.
Were there any funny moments during the pregnancy you’d be willing to share?
The whole delivery was a smooth, easy process (once the epidural had kicked in). We were waiting for the Dr. to arrive for the final part of delivery. When she walked into the room, we were all laughing and having a good time. Everyone told me to stop laughing! I literally was going to push the baby right out with my laughs and the Dr. had only just walked in the room and wasn’t ready for delivery, yet alone catch the baby unexpectedly.
Here are a few funny moments from during the pregnancy too:
I was having lunch with my youngest son (he’s in Kindergarten) and his friends. We were talking about me having a baby. One of the boys said, ‘my mom is having a baby too!’ My son then said, very matter of fact, ‘oh, but my mom’s not keeping the baby.’ The other little boy- his eyes got as big as quarters! It would have been fun to be a fly on the wall at his house when he asked his mom if she was keeping his new baby brother or not.
When people would congratulate me on having a baby, I’d respond with ‘thank you, but here’s the crazy thing, It’s not mine!!’ There’d be a pause, you could see the wheels turning, and then thinking how could it not be mine….Then I’d share that I was a surrogate and having the baby for a friend. One older gentleman who I shared this with, was really confused. I’m sure it was a generation gap. After he thought about it, his question was, ‘did you have to have sex with the guy?’ He was genuinely concerned that I had slept with the guy. It still makes me shake my head when I think about that conversation with him. I responded, ‘NO, of course not.’
I was also concerned about telling my grandma what I was doing, simply because she’s old school catholic. Earlier on this given day I had shared the good news with my kids who were very excited for me. So while we were visiting grandma later in the day, they kept elbowing me, ‘Mom. Mom. Go on, tell her.’ I’d whisper, ‘I can’t, she’s not gonna get it…’ I finally did share, and she was very understanding. Each time we talked thereafter, she’d make a point to ask how the baby was doing.
How did everything go on delivery day? Please describe the emotions and feelings you experienced when the baby was born and shortly thereafter.
I don’t think my body knows how to go into labor. I have needed to be induced with all 4 babies. This delivery, however, my water did break on its own. We were walking laps around the maternity floor and bouncing on the exercise ball for the morning, I felt a little something, but I thought it was maybe something else. When the on-call Dr. arrived to break my water, as I was trying to get into the bed, there it went. I probably waited a little too long through the early contractions before I got the epidural, because I could still feel the contractions. So I asked for more. The anesthesiologist returned and gave me what he called a bolus, I liken it to a booster of epidural. It worked a little too well, to say the least. My legs were numb, like heavy bricks. I should ask my IP how heavy they were, as she was there to help me through delivery. Surro baby was born at 3:23 pm and I didn’t walk until after midnight ! It took a bit to get the feeling back.
I didn’t have any expectations going into the delivery. It has been very easy to work with my IPs, there was no drama, and we all kinda figured we’ll just let things play out and take them as they come. But now that delivery day is over, it didn’t go as I expected. That sounds odd, as I just said I didn’t have any expectations. I guess I thought there would be some more spotlight on me. Baby was born, there was skin to skin with mom (maybe with dad too, I’m not sure), then clean-up of baby, myself, the room and then there I was alone in the hospital room. The IPs and baby came to visit once that night and in the morning before they headed home. Maybe if I had a support team there to keep me company it would have been different, but the IPs were my team. I was probably feeling a little lonely.
Emotionally I felt good. I didn’t miss the baby, I knew my job was over. One of the common questions I got was, ‘How can you give the baby up??!!’ Well, it wasn’t my baby. Her egg, his sperm. I didn’t have a genetic connection with the baby. That may sound heartless, I did tell my IP this, to please not think less of me as I don’t have a connection to the baby. I cared for the baby as I would have cared for my own baby, taking all precautions I would have, but the connection was more of a babysitter than of a mother. A month afterwards, now I feel a little empty. But empty because I want to be helping a family again, to have that purpose and experience that fulfillment again. As I commented earlier, I only wish I had jumped into surrogacy sooner, my youngest just turned 6, I could have helped a bunch of families grow their family, but hopefully I’ll get the chance to help again here in the future.
Additional thoughts, comments, and observations about your journey and/or your experience with any of the folks you worked with:
Personally, I don’t really think what I did was all that extraordinary. I liked being pregnant. I like to help people when I can. It was a nice change, when I’d share with people that I was a surrogate, and therefore I wasn’t keeping the baby, it was a nice unsolicited congratulations/ pat on the back.
Thank you Surrogacy Center; especially Delia, you helped this journey get off the ground. You brought two families together, to make something beautiful.