Even though surrogacy technology and success rates are increasing, it’s still a relatively uncommon thing and there’s a lot of confusion about what’s involved. I know, because I was a gestational surrogate (we called me the tummy mummy) for 9 months and I birthed a beautiful surrogate baby (sometimes called a surrobabe) for friends of ours.
I got lots and lots of questions before, during, and after the surrogacy from friends, co-workers, family and sometimes even strangers. But there were three questions that popped up time and again. They were:
I did it for love. You know that moment at the end of the day when your kids are asleep in their beds, but you go in to check on them just one more time to smooch their little faces and you feel so much love you think your heart might burst? That’s why. I wanted to help another couple have a baby so they could have that moment. I’m lucky enough to have a supportive family, a healthy body, and a uterus that works well, so I let my friends borrow it for a bit. In our case, the baby’s parents are both men, so they needed a little help from science and some selfless ladies (an egg donor and a tummy mummy).
When we decided as a family that we wanted to do a surrogate pregnancy and started doing some research, we quickly learned there’s so much involved that we needed some professional help. So, we signed up with an agency that helped us figure out what steps to do in what order and managed a lot the paperwork part of things for us. After we matched with a couple who were also registered with the same agency, I essentially went through the same process as in vitro fertilization (IVF), minus the egg retrieval because I knew a traditional surrogacy (one that would use my own eggs) was not a good fit for me.
First, we tricked my body into thinking I was menopausal, so my eggs and my cycle wouldn’t get in the way of all that science. Then, we tricked it into thinking I was already three days pregnant and transferred a frozen three-day-old embryo. And then, I had to keep taking medication and injections until my body caught up hormonally and could sustain the pregnancy on its own.
After that, it was pretty similar to my other pregnancies for my own kids – except there was more of everything. More anxiety, more morning sickness, more ultrasounds, more aches and pains, more food cravings and aversions, more vomiting, more weird questions from other people, more weight gain, more mood swings and tears, more trouble sleeping and walking and breathing, more heartburn, more varicose veins and, sadly, even more vomiting. It was my third pregnancy after all and I’m not as young as I once was and we were not using my genetic material this time, so I guess it’s no surprise that some things were different.
I got pre-natal medical care in my area and the birth happened at a local hospital. My husband, doula, and one of the dads was with me (the other dad was on a plane trying to get to us as fast as possible because the baby decided to come early). We all stayed in the hospital for 24 hours and she went home with her very excited, very tired, very in love Dads.
And now the final question, because I know you’re all wondering:
Yes. Absolutely, yes. Well, wait…let me clarify. If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I would (and not just because of that lovely hormone-induced forgetfulness that happens after birth). It was one of the most deeply profound, strange and surreal experiences of my life.
Even though it was really overwhelming and there were moments when it all seemed to be too much for me, I do think I’m a better person for having gone through it and I know for sure that the world is a better place for having one more loving, devoted family in it. But, if someone asked me to be a surrogate again, I might vomit all over them.