Gestational Carrier Profile: B in Wisconsin

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MY JOURNEY AS A GESTATIONAL CARRIER

BN pic 1First 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 BN pic 2weight 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.

Intended Parent Profile: J and S

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Intended Parents J and S from Wisconsin recently welcomed baby girl K to their family!  Here they share the story of their journey, what to expect during the process, and how their experiences with parenthood are shaping their lives.  This is great information and advice for any IPs who are looking into surrogacy as an option to build their family.  Happy reading!

Kara2First and foremost, how has parenthood been treating you?  Is it everything you dreamed it would be?

Parenthood is great! It is a dream come true, considering there was a long time in my life where I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to have kids (as a gay man). We really invested hard on parenting classes and books during the pregnancy, so it’s turning out to be more manageable than I originally expected. There’s still some difficult moments and long nights, but it’s still been a great experience. (I’d do it again!) We’re really good about maintaining our rotating sleep shift, where in the night one of us is “on call” while the other sleeps in the guest room uninterrupted, and then we switch. The full rotation lasts about 12 hours. We’ve had to cut several evening fun activities with our childless kids who don’t really understand how critical sleep is to a new parent, but everyone with kids has been super supportive and helpful as they know how difficult it can be. I know I’m genetically hard-wired to think this, but my baby is definitely the cutest and the best!!! With each new day and development, I get really excited to see the person she is growing into.

What made you decide to pursue surrogacy in the first place?

I have always wanted to have children. We also explored adoption, but unfortunately it was a much more complicated and potentially heartbreaking process than most people realize (especially for same-sex couples), and is also considerably expensive. We spoke with families that went on each route, and decided surrogacy was the one that fit our family situation best. While it is possibly the more expensive option, it provided the most control over our timetable.

What were your expectations before you began the process?

I feel the depiction of surrogacy on TV/movies is very misleading. The surrogates we see on TV (Glee, Friends, Fuller House) is far from a safe or realistic way to do the process. Most depictions of adopting, surrogacy, etc are horribly misrepresented on TV shows, and not many people understand how it all really works. Even now it can get frustrating at times explaining to people their false misconceptions. (ex: you can’t/really shouldn’t just “mix your sperm in a cup and use a turkey baster”, it’s not a good idea to use the surrogate’s egg, most of your friends probably aren’t qualified to be effective surrogates yet they casually say “they’d be willing to carry a baby for you”, and it’s probably not the best idea to use one of your friends/family for the process unless you are EXTREMELY confident in your relationship). I think the TV ideal of magically having one of your best friends carry a baby and then the laugh track plays over and over is what we’re exposed to. However I think the Surrogacy Center and the legal team we worked with did an excellent job of setting realistic expectations for us and how it really works. I completely agree with every screening requirement the Surrogacy Center implements.

Describe the matching process and how you felt when you first met your GC in person:

The matching process took a few months (I believe 4? It was confusing due to some rearrangement at the time). I think it was really important to be true to your values and if there’s a gut feeling that the match won’t work out from the form or meeting, not to be afraid to wait a little longer for the next one. We went with our second match, and she was absolutely wonderful. The meeting was a little awkward, as you’re both strangers and want to have a baby together. I’m sure I was a little extra nervous not to offend her in any way, so I feel like I was super sugar-coating my personality and straying from anything of potential controversy. However, she turned out to be one of the kindest and strongest women I have ever met, and I would love for our daughter to have a good relationship with her going forward. We are likely to meet up periodically and our child can call the GC her “birth mom”. We’re still working on a term that fits the birth mom’s other kids, as they’re not quite step siblings or cousins, but they have an interesting connection.

What was the most unexpected part of your journey?  Is there anything that surprised you?

I think we had expected to get to know our GC better before the actual transfer. There was one in-person meeting, and then off we were to the transfer the next time we met. I think we both felt it was a little strange we still barely knew each other but were willing to go through with making a baby together. It did all work out for us in the end! I am completely satisfied with how things worked out and our current relationship. I was also surprised that everything went so well and smoothly after we were matched (and quickly too). There were many times I think we would “forget” we were expecting during the pregnancy, especially since we didn’t have an active baby bump in our household to remind us. Even after the birth, I still had moments of “oh right, we had a baby!”

How did everything go on delivery day?  Please describe the emotions and feelings you experienced when the baby was born.

Delivery was a unique experience. It really shows the strength of women and how difficult it is to create new babies. Even after an epidural, labor seems like a very difficult and painful process, and there were many times when I thought “OMG, what did we do to this poor woman!” We did get through, and eventually we got to meet our slimy, crying, but beautiful baby, who pooped on me several times during the first skin to skin contact. I highly recommend everyone be present in the delivery room if possible, as it builds an appreciation for how difficult it is to create new humans. It took a while to really have that “click” in my head that we were parents (even after leaving the hospital), especially since we didn’t see most of the pregnancy. I remember pre-delivery day as the last day we’ve had a straight 8 hours of sleep! I really appreciate the few weeks we had after the birth where we were both on leave from work, and we got to spend dedicated time to getting to know each other as a family. Also, I feel a profound sense of respect and admiration for our GC. She’s amazing!

Please share any advice you would give to folks who are researching surrogacy to build their families:

General parenting advice: If you have the opportunity to babysit an infant for a few hours (less than 6 months preferred), do it. Make sure you are absolutely committed to doing this sort of thing, and it’s not something that will easily overwhelm you. We are blessed with the advantage of full family planning in this situation, and can back out easily in the early stages. I do know some people who try babysitting, and then decide to get dogs instead, which is totally fine!

Also, if there are any issues in your marriage, address them ASAP. I believe our baby adventure went so well because we were an extremely solid team as a couple. There’s really no room for any apprehension from your teamwork, as the lack of sleep and the difficulty of the process can be very stressful.

For surrogacy advice: Put in a lot of research into the process. This process is very time consuming (all the days off work and travel), requires some serious project management skills and organization, and there will be many times when you might feel like a human ATM (the agency, clinics, pharmacies, doctor appointments, lawyers, etc will all ask for a couple thousand dollars one after the other, with no tangible results at the time). There are some ups and downs, it is not too different from the process an infertile couple going through IVF would experience. I personally hate gambling, but that is part of the process. Seeking support with couples who have gone through IVF is appropriate and recommended. (easier to find than a couple that had a GC)  However, in the end you get to take home the cutest baby ever and you get to have a family!

Additional thoughts, comments, and observations about your journey and/or your experience with any of the folks you worked with along the way:

The surrogacy center did a great job at finding us an A+ gestational carrier! We are very pleased with how everything turned out. Clare and Delia are also very kind and great to work with. I highly recommend working with them!

Good Question: What if the GC wants to keep the baby?

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IPs will ask about this particular issue from time to time : What if the GC wants to keep the baby?

We talk with them about how rare it is, especially when it concerns gestational (and not traditional) surrogacy, and that the agreements are written to prevent this from happening.  They still worry about it, despite our assurances that this has never happened with our agency, and that the attorneys we refer our clients to are all exceptionally knowledgeable about surrogacy laws pertaining to the states in which they practice.  

Emotions in the surrogacy community were quickly rattled when an Iowa surrogate brought her case to the state Supreme Court a couple of years ago to keep the baby she was carrying for her IPs, the legally and contractually recognized parents of the offspring.  In February, the Court agreed with the IPs and said that the parties entered into the surrogacy agreement voluntarily, and the gestational carrier did not allege she signed it under economic duress.

In May of this year, she appealed to the Supreme Court of the United Sates, who just declined to hear the case.  This is great news for not only our Iowa IPs and GCs, but sets a precedent for possible future appeals to SCOTUS challenging the enforceability of surrogacy agreements. Thankfully the Iowa Supreme Court ruling stands, rendering surrogacy contracts as legal and enforceable.

Advances in state laws pertaining to surrogacy have been remarkably positive in recent months, and we hope the trend continues.  It should be up to the willing participants who wish to build their families – and those who wish to help them do so – to enter into an enforceable agreement that cannot be challenged or nullified by outside sources.

Intended Parents M and V: Our Story

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Shriya and Mike – summer 2018  Shriya pic 2 – summer 2018

We have been together for over seven years and we always knew that we wanted to have a family. Family is very important to us. Once finished our respective graduate studies, we felt we were ready to start the journey. We explored a few options (adoption, surrogacy etc.) but surrogacy felt like the right match for us, in part because it enabled a genetic connection.

That being said, cost was a concern for us as we were both just starting our careers. Because of this, we briefly considered international surrogacy, but we ultimately decided that US surrogacy was a better option because of the legal clarity, the structure and transparency of the process. This provided considerable peace of mind – which was really important for us. In addition, the ability to meet, interact and stay in touch with the GC was another huge benefit. While the quoted price of domestic surrogacy was higher, it was definitely worth it and we didn’t encounter any financial “surprises” along the way.

We were connected The Surrogacy Center through a friend, and our initial call with TSC was just to learn about the process generally. After hanging up the phone, we both remarked how much we liked them — they were very kind, patient, and thorough in their explanations. We talked to another couple that had worked with TSC before, and they had extremely positive reviews, so we decided they could be a good option for us, even though there are local surrogacy agencies in MA where we live.

In order to match us to a GC, TSC had a long discussion with us about our preferences for the pregnancy and desired relationship with the GC. After a couple months, we were notified that we had a potential match. We went out to WI and met with her and her family. It felt like a good match, but after a few weeks a complicating factor arose preventing us from working with her. TSC helped us through this rough patch, and got us connected with a new GC within a few months. She and her family were lovely, and we were very excited and thankful to get started.

While we were waiting for the match, we had selected a fertility clinic and egg donor. Fortunately, we were able to get those aspects completed in parallel and avoid delay. Legal paperwork (both with the fertility clinic and with the GC) also occurred during this time and was relatively straight-forward and painless.

After meeting the GC, we stayed in regular contact with her and her husband primarily by text, but also with occasional Skype calls. Our first attempt at embryo transfer was a momentous and nerve-wracking affair, and unfortunately, unsuccessful. However, we were able to try again in short order and just before Christmas, we learned that the second transfer had resulted in a pregnancy. We were elated.

During the next nine months, we stayed in frequent contact with the Surrogate, who gave us careful updates about all her medical visits and her experiences dealing with morning sickness and fielding curious questions from her daughter. We appreciated always knowing the full picture. At week 14, she sent us a surprise package in the mail that revealed the baby’s gender. We loved telling all our friends, family, and colleagues that we were expecting a baby girl. It was an extremely exciting time, and it was quite touching how excited people were for us. At the 20-week ultra sound, we “saw” our baby girl for the first time.

As we got closer to the due date, we planned our logistics. TSC helpfully gave us lots of advice about what to bring and where to stay. Our daughter ended up coming a couple weeks earlier than expected, so I am glad we were prepared. We arrived in time for her birth, and held her just moments after she was born. We were in love with her immediately.

We stayed in the hospital for a couple days. The hospital gave us our own room where we could bond with our baby girl and learn to handle and feed her. Meanwhile, the surrogate was recovering just a couple doors down the hall, which meant we could introduce our daughter to her and her family. We all got discharged on the same day. We took a bunch of photos and said our goodbyes and headed back to Boston, now as a family of three.

Our surrogate very kindly offered to provide breast milk. Our daughter grew healthy and strong, steadily improving her percentile on the growth chart. Thankfully, our daughter had a very easy temperament and slept well, which made us well-rested parents (relatively speaking). She is now almost a year old and is full of personality.

During this time, we have stayed in regular contact with the GC and her family, keeping them posted on our daughter’s growth with frequent photos and stories. We have started making rough plans for a second pregnancy with her, so needless to say we were incredibly happy and thankful for our experience working with her as well as TSC.

A Few Words from an Experienced Gestational Carrier: Amber

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One of our amazing GCs shares her experiences about being a repeat carrier.  This is good information to know for anyone who is considering another journey!  Check out her story:  

Amber

Hi, I’m an experienced surrogate on the beginning of my second journey.  I chose to become a surrogate mainly because of my pure joy in being pregnant.  I also feel a sense of satisfaction in fulfilling another’s dream of having a family.

Our family is from southern Wisconsin.  We both work full time with 2 young children.  Our family is complete at 6, which includes our dog and cat.  We enjoy the outdoors, whether it’s fishing, hiking, hunting, or just simply being outside.  We are extremely lucky to have been matched with wonderful couples that have very similar personalities to my husband and myself.

Surrogacy can be a complicated process. So, working with the right match makes the process go a lot smoother.  Both of my journeys took 2 rounds of IVF to get a successful pregnancy.  Perseverance and patience aided in my journeys more than anything. There are some ups and downs, but the outcome makes everything worth it.  Knowing you are playing a key role in someone’s life, while being mindful of one’s own health, is an important mindset to have.

This journey is one I would take many more times if possible.  Happy incubating!

Amber 😊

Gestational Carrier Profile: Trista

Trista NFirst and foremost, how are you feeling in general, after recovering from your journey?

GREAT!  The delivery was slightly more difficult than my own children but that was due to the fact that it was twins.

What made you decide to pursue surrogacy in the first place?

Throughout my life I have interacted with so many people that couldn’t have children that I knew would be wonderful parents.  After I had our son I knew that I wanted to help others have the same feeling of being a parent.  After our daughter it was all I could think about.  After a few years of looking into the process and discussing it with my husband we decided to go ahead with the process.

When you shared the news with them, how did your spouse/significant other, loved ones, friends, coworkers, etc. react?

At first my husband was concerned with my desire to be a surrogate but after much investigation and discussion he understood my desire and we decided to move forward.  Our children just loved the idea.  The Mother’s Day that I was carrying the twins my son made me a card about how he loved me because of how I was kind to others by helping other people become a family just like we were.  Most other people were surprised but grateful that of what I was doing to help someone else out.

What were your expectations before you began the process?

All I knew was that I wanted to help a couple become a family.  I was so excited I couldn’t wait to get my call that they had found a match for me.  And when that call finally came I couldn’t wait to meet them.

Describe the matching process and how you felt when you first met your IPs in person:

I was so nervous getting ready that morning.  I fretted about everything.  My biggest concern was that they wouldn’t like me or how we would get along.  The ladies at the agency were amazing at helping me calm my nerves by meeting with my husband and I first and giving us an idea of how the meeting would go down.  Then the sat with us as they brought the IPs in.  Once we got to start talking it was amazing how much we had in common.  I could tell that we would be perfect together.

What was the most unexpected part of your journey?  Is there anything that surprised you?

TWINS!  I had always hoped that one day I would be able to carry twins and when I found out at the first ultrasound that I was carrying twins it was amazing!  I was so happy that I could help them get not just 1 but 2 babies!

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 babies for someone else)?

Other than the tiredness which I am sure came from the twins it really felt the same.  I loved being able to record the heartbeats and send the pictures to share how great the boys were doing.  Each doctor visit was like Christmas where I could send the IPs more information.

Were there any funny moments during the pregnancy you’d be willing to share?

I was about 32 weeks along at my son’s championship baseball game.  It was July and super hot.  All of the other parents of my sons team knew I was pregnant but I was never forthcoming with the fact that I was a surrogate unless someone asked or said something about the baby.  That day one of the other mothers made a comment about how I probably was so ready for the baby to be born.  I explained that they had to wait until their parents arrived in a few weeks and that they were not allowed to come before then.  All of the parents were so surprised and excited to find out that I was carrying twins instead of a single and that they were not even my children that they stopped watching the game and started asking me questions.  I work with the public so this type of thing happened to me all the time.

How did everything go on delivery day?  Please describe the emotions and feelings you experienced when the babies were born and shortly thereafter.

Delivery day went great!  The boys waited until their parents had arrived and had settled into their hotel.  We even had the weekend where my IPs got to experience my community’s summer picnic and meet some of my family that they had not before.  The morning I went into labor I was so excited.  My husband drove me to the hospital and our IPs met us there.  Labor went smoothly and everyone was just waiting around.  Because I was delivering twins I had to deliver in the OR in case a C-section was needed, which luckily we did, as after baby 1 was born we had some issues and baby 2 didn’t want to come the right way.  My doctor did a C-section at which time the parents and my husband had to leave the room which was scary but necessary.  My epidural didn’t work so I had to be put out but when I woke up I got to see each of the parents with their babies.  They were so happy.  I just knew that I had done the right thing.  It felt so great.  A few days later when we were discharged from the hospital we helped them load the boys up.  I knew that we had a great relationship.

Please share any advice you would give to potential GCs:

Do it!  The process has a lot of waiting.  A LOT!  But it is totally worth it.  Seeing how happy our IPs were and watching them hold the boys made me feel complete.  The parents continue to thank me for helping them have their family.  To be honest I feel like it is me that is the lucky one.  I got to help them become the family they have dreamed of but couldn’t have.  The ability to help others dreams come true is the greatest gift I could imagine.

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Intended Parent Profile: D and M (International IPs)

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In this blog series, The Surrogacy Center asks our Intended Parents and Gestational Carriers who have completed a surrogacy journey to discuss their experience with us.  We hope this will provide insight to prospective IPs and GCs who are just starting to look into surrogacy as a way to either build their families (IPs) or help others in doing so (GCs).

Introducing our first installment: An interview with these two wonderful dads who are the proud parents of beautiful twin boys A and M!

Twin M 11 months Twin A 11 months

First and foremost, how has parenthood been treating you?  Is it everything you dreamed it would be?

Having 11 month old twin boys is extremely exciting and becoming parents the most exciting thing in our lives. A dream became true!

What made you decide to pursue surrogacy in the first place?

Surrogacy is the only (reasonable) way for us to have biological kids.

What were your expectations before you began the process?

We tried not to have too many expectations as we understood that every journey is different.

Describe the matching process and how you felt when you first met your GC in person:

She was the perfect match which was clear from the very beginning. The Surrogacy Center chose the right person. We are grateful for her who made our family complete.

What was the most unexpected part of your journey?  Is there anything that surprised you?

We feel blessed because all went well. Smaller unexpected parts on the way you forget once you hold your babies in your arms.

How did everything go on delivery day?  Please describe the emotions and feelings you experienced when the babies were born.

It was just overwhelming and you cannot find words for how we felt. It changed our lives forever. We were all crying because we were so happy. You are just grateful. It was truly the best decision in our life.

Please share any advice you would give to folks who are researching surrogacy to build their families:

The most important thing is to work with a good agency. They will guide you through all situations (expected and unexpected ones). We absolutely recommend the Surrogacy Center. They were extremely supportive and dedicated. They made our journey so much easier.

Additional thoughts, comments, and observations about your journey and/or your experience with any of the folks you worked with along the way:

All folks we worked with were recommended by the Surrogacy Center. You have to trust them and all goes well then.

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Interested in Becoming a Gestational Carrier? An Open Letter to Potential Surrogacy Applicants

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There are many women out there (you may be one of them) who have considered helping a couple or individual who can’t otherwise conceive a child build their family by serving as their surrogate.  It takes a particular type of strong and resolute woman to follow through with providing such an amazing gift to another family, but we do find that there are scores of women who have had this thought cross their mind and have wondered “is this the right thing for me to do?”  The short answer?  If you meet all of the qualifications, then yes – it certainly is.

One of the most frequent questions encountered in the surrogacy agency domain is “do I qualify to be a surrogate?”  Of course, this is the most important question from the onset – because if there is even one red flag that prevents a woman from becoming what we refer to as a “Gestational Carrier” (a surrogate who carries an embryo that is not created from her own genetic material, so she is not genetically related to the offspring), she can be disqualified before she even applies.  We like to try and avoid this, which is why we apply a set of criteria and guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), as well as some of our own standards that we believe would apply in confirming that a woman can be an ideal Gestational Carrier.  So, what are they?

If you happen to be a healthy woman between the ages of 21-45 who is considering becoming a Gestational Carrier (just for purposes of brevity, we will call them “GCs”), you may begin doing some research to see if you qualify.  You have just crossed the first guideline off of your list (appropriate age) – congratulations!  Many of the GCs who apply state that they absolutely love being pregnant, so that definitely helps.  In all likelihood, you probably enjoyed the pregnancy experience immensely.  This will no doubt give your potential Intended Parents (and your own family) a sense of comfort.

Next, you must have given birth to at least one child and have agreed that your family is complete and you do not wish to bear any more of your own children.  Ideally, the births of your child(ren) went off without a hitch and you delivered at term and without any complications.  You must have a healthy BMI and be generally healthy overall, so no medications that can interfere with pregnancy, no grave underlying medical conditions that would make a pregnancy risky, no smoking or alcohol abuse, etc. (we know these are obvious, but nonetheless they bear repeating).  It doesn’t matter if you are married, divorced, single, etc. – but you must have a stable home environment and have at least one person who you can lean on as a support person throughout the process, whether it be a spouse, parent, sibling, friend, or coworker.

Other considerations to bear in mind are that you may not have had more than 5 previous deliveries or more than 3 c-sections.

So, if you’ve gotten this far and have met all of these qualifications, you would make a fabulous GC.  Great!  However, there are a few other things to consider before you apply. The other ingredients to add to the mix would be your altruism (like feeling a “calling” to do this or REALLY wanting to help a family), your mental preparedness (Am I ready for this? Do I have my family’s support?  Would it take a toll on them in any way?) and your understanding that this journey can be a long process (on average 15 months to 2 years), so you must be committed.  But if you have gotten this far, you probably are.  Now you just have to fill out the paperwork, which can take some time – but we are here to help guide you through this process.

Once a GC enters the program, she will have to agree to receive a psychosocial evaluation along with her spouse (if she has one) to confirm that she is ready (both physically and mentally) for the journey.  This is not as daunting a process as it sounds – and many GCs actually enjoy the process.  It is quite rare that a GC “fails” to be recommended by a mental health professional for continuing the process (though it *can* happen), especially if she has already gone through a lot of these questions in her own mind, and has met all other qualifications.  So, no need to worry!  This will also help the agency with the matching process in order to help deliver the best possible match with Intended Parents.

If you’ve gotten this far and you happen to BE that woman between 21-45 who has thought “why not me?” – then it may be time for you to take that next step.  Gestational Surrogacy in the midwest is common (most of our GCs are from Wisconsin and Minnesota) and the laws here are generally quite favorable.  Signing on with an agency will ensure that you will be supported every step of the way – logistically, emotionally, legally, and financially (yes, you DO receive compensation!).  Bonus: We work with Intended Parents from all over the world, so you may get to travel a bit.

In conclusion: Thank you for considering becoming a surrogate in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or any state that does not prohibit it.  Any agency – and certainly many IPs – would be lucky to have you!

 

 

Seeking an all-inclusive surrogacy package? Look no further.

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As a detail-oriented person and consummate planner, I often find myself in situations where I think “wouldn’t it be easier if A, B and C were packaged TOGETHER and followed a more simplified process?”  I’m all about efficiency; a believer in streamlining processes to make it easier to follow the main path with as little chance of diversion as possible.  The Surrogacy Center has adopted this efficiency in partnering with the International Egg Bank and Midwest Fertility Center in Downers Grove, IL (outside of Chicago) to offer an all-inclusive surrogacy package for Intended Parents (IPs).  The new partnership between these organizations is the result of months of planning where the product ended up as a “one-stop-shop” of sorts, where IPs can experience complete coordination and management of their surrogacy journey under one umbrella: The egg &/or sperm bank, fertility clinic, surrogacy agency, attorneys, escrow, etc.  This new partnership was introduced at the Men Having Babies conference in Chicago in mid-April, and has already generated much interest.

Imagine being able to compartmentalize all of the components in your surrogacy journey into one binder, where each tab is coordinated and planned to work seamlessly with the next.  IPs will be able to choose from three competitive packages with all-inclusive pricing to include donor eggs, laboratory & embryology, surrogate medical embryo transfer, gestational carrier recruitment and compensation, and escrow account management.  Legal fees and insurance fees are not included in the package estimates, but are clearly laid out and explained at the start of the journey so that IPs will know exactly what to expect.  Our amazing Gestational Carriers (GCs), who mainly hail from Wisconsin and Minnesota, will be just as thrilled to have all of these components managed together, and will need only to travel to the fertility center twice (as in typical surrogacy journeys) – once for a medical clearance appointment and once for the transfer.  Then, as is typical, she will be monitored by her own OB and clinic, who will communicate regularly with the fertility center throughout the pregnancy.

Putting all of the train cars together on one track with choices about which direction to travel will no doubt be a draw for many IPs, though many others who already have established relationships with their own clinics, attorneys, etc. will choose to not cross silos, which also works well.  No matter which surrogacy path they follow, our hope is that people building their families through surrogacy are offered as many choices as possible to make their journeys efficient and enjoyable.  Preparing for parenthood can indeed be stressful, but it can also be fun and there are moments not to be missed.  Our job is to make it *more* fun and *less* stressful.

If you would like more information on the all-inclusive surrogacy package program, please visit https://www.internationaleggbank.org/surrogacy/ to fill out an inquiry form, or call Lori at 888-261-5918.