Surrogacy, the view from inside.
Thank you to Dana, a gestational surrogate, and Andy, a dad-to-be seeking a surrogate, for contributing their personal stories.
I am a gestational surrogate. I recently gave birth to another couple’s baby, having gotten pregnant through IVF with a baby not genetically related to me. Being pregnant in this way has given me the opportunity to talk to so many people and have many conversations that I would ordinarily not have. When I was around thirty-eight weeks pregnant I had dropped my eleven year old son and seven year old daughter off at piano lessons and ran to Starbucks for a tall, soy, no classic, green tea Frappuccino. It was happy hour and all Frappuccino’s were half off. By then I was showing so greatly it was not uncommon to get multiple comment each day to the tune of, “you must be ready to pop!”
That day in Starbucks it was a grandma. She was sipping on her Frappuccino, asked if I was having a girl or a boy and took about ten seconds to get to what she really wanted to do which was show me a picture of her grandchildren from her phone! Her name was Meg. Of course I told her I was a surrogate, one thing led to the next (a fairly typical progression of the surrogacy conversation) and I told her the parents were gay men to which she proudly shared that her son was a stay at home dad. Meg wanted to know what hospital I was going to be birthing at because she crochets blankets for a local hospital’s L&D unit.
Soon a man, about forty and covered in tattoos, couldn’t help himself and apologized for jumping in but wanted to tell us he too is a stay at home dad. His wife is a firefighter and while he does some construction on the side he is privileged to primarily stay home with their three year old son. He had a lot of questions for me including how much money it costs to have a surrogate. I could only guess at that but told him it depends on a lot of things like if he uses an agency, would be using him and his wife’s own embryos or would be needing an egg or sperm donor, if the surrogate had health insurance that covered surrogacy or if he’d have to take out a policy for her etc… I told him how much the parents of the baby I was carrying for were paying me and what the normal range of compensation was. He and his wife want more kids but with her physical fitness being so important in her line of work and with her being the primary breadwinner, having more kids was no simple matter for them. His wife would have to take off around just a few months into pregnancy if not immediately and not return to work until she was able to get back to top notch condition because of the physical demands being a firefighter imposes. This was just conversation but it was one of many intimate conversations that being a surrogate has allowed me to have with people I know as well as complete strangers.
I never realized how many people struggle with infertility or other issues that prevent them from having children. A cashier at Costco confided in me that her friends tried for years to have kids and never could. My son’s teacher has a daughter who had been struggling to get pregnant and was just starting to look into IVF. The lady at the UPS counter’s sister never could get pregnant, they never knew why not. I have a friend who has grown close to a gay couple who attends her church. The couple moved to their current state because it was friendlier toward gays becoming parents. They are still not sure how they will do it but they do want to start a family. The stories came often and tugged at my heart each time. I just wanted to tell them all that I’d gladly carry their baby – if only. Most people, myself included before becoming a surrogate, take having children so easily for granted. I had to cut our conversation in Starbucks short. I could have talked all day to Meg the grandma and the tattooed stay at home dad who I had a lot in common with as far as how we raise our children but piano lessons were ending soon. Before I left, Meg wrote down her email address so I could send her my address so she could crochet a blanket for my surrogate baby. I’m one of not too many surrogates who talk freely about the money I was being paid to help my Intended Parents (the baby’s parent’s) have a baby. During the whole pregnancy people were always so quick to tell me how selfless and wonderful I was and I’ve always made it very clear to everyone that beyond the unquantifiable satisfaction of giving the gift of life to another and beyond getting to be pregnant again, I was being paid. I always said this expecting people to retract their praise but it never happened. No one cares. They’d say of course you are being paid and then continue with their blessings.
Surrogacy has without a doubt been the greatest gift I have ever given and by far the greatest gift I have ever received. My IP’s are over the moon in love with their daughter who was born three weeks ago. Watching them with their precious baby girl after birth was far greater of a high than I even imagined it would be. The entire pregnancy has been filled with endless positivity from friends and strangers alike and helped me realize just how positive of a world we really do live in where so many people can be so excited for another couple, a couple they will never even meet, to get the chance to have what many of us are so easily blessed with, a family. I’m honored to have been trusted to take care of their baby and bring her into this world. I know now that I was made, in part, to be a surrogate.
author bio, Dana – I’m 31 years old. I’ve been married to my husband Jason for twelve years. We have an 11 year old boy and 7 year old girl and I have two step sons age 18 and 20 from my husband’s previous marriage. When my children were young I enjoyed cloth diapering and practicing elimination communication with my daughter. I’m currently a stay at home mom and Oregon State student, finishing my degree in Economics with a minor in Political Science. I just gave birth as a gestational surrogate for the first time to a perfect, healthy little girl. I am hoping to do a sibling journey soon with the same beautiful couple. It has been such a pleasure to document this surrogacy journey at my blog Return to Senders. You can follow my other adventures on my personal blog.
Hi. My name is Andy, and I plan to be a dad via surrogacy. I’m excited about being a dad. Really excited. It has never been a consideration of mine to NOT have children. I grew up in a household with young parents: my mother and father were both under 25 when I was born. My brother and sister are within 5 years (younger) of me and we are very close. Family is important to me. My family, friends and business partner are very excited and supportive of me being a dad. They’ve all known about my desire. And, I’m “Uncle Andy” to the kids of my close friends. But life doesn’t always align with desire, and I have not yet met the right person to pursue this desire of mine to be a dad.
I know this will not be easy. No new parent would say it’s easy. But a single dad? Oh my! I am nervous, of course. But I am ready. Over the past year, I’ve done much to prepare on the baby arrival front. For example, trying to meet the right surrogacy agencies, exploring egg donors, etc. It’s not a simple process. And on the work and personal front I’ve been shifting workloads and travel schedules of my demanding job to accommodate having a newborn of my own. I’m even preparing to move to a home with more space.
I suspect I might get “funny looks” for wanting to pursue a life as a single dad via surrogacy. Anything outside of the norm can garner an “interesting” reaction. But that’s ok. To share my passions and knowledge with a little one, to nurture him or her into the person that he or she was meant to be, that’s what matters here. And I will get there. I respect and deeply appreciate the role a surrogate could play in helping me to attain this dream.
author bio, Andy – I live in Chicago and lead an active life with my family and friends. I am an outdoor adventure traveler, an active skier, an avid college basketball fan, a Culinary Institute of America-trained cooking enthusiast and a devoted Parrothead – as a result of traveling early in my career with singer Jimmy Buffett. I am a managing partner for an investment firm and a (fingers crossed) soon-to-be gDad.