I recently had the opportunity to be a surrogate mother for my sweet little niece, Adalyn. Soon, I will write a lot more about that whole journey, but for now, I wanted to share a few things about surrogacy that I wish I had known ahead of time for those of you who are curious or possibly interested in beginning that journey as well.
- It’s not a quick process. Signing up for surrogacy is not like signing up for an exercise class at the Y. It’s definitely a long process which includes a long list of requirements before you are even approved to become a surrogate. I had to do a physical assessment of my female anatomy (including a bit of an uncomfortable procedure called “Saline Infusion Sonography”), a complete medical history review which required me to have my current doctor’s office to fax over a large stack of medical information, lots of blood work, a personality assessment (around 500 questions), visits with a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and working with an attorney to write up and sign a very long surrogacy agreement (which had to be notarized.) Not only did I have to go through many of these steps as the surrogate, but so did my husband and the intended parents. We all had to talk to the psychiatrist, sign legal documents, and have blood work. My husband and I both had to take antibiotics prior to the procedure and we both had to be trained on how to give intramuscular injections. All of this had to take place along with waiting on the embryos to be fertilized and ready for the procedure. Often times, there are many setbacks. For example, if the egg is a fresh egg (not frozen), the baby’s mother (or egg donor, depending on circumstances) has to go through the egg retrieval process, then the egg has to be fertilized and implanted. If the egg is frozen, it has to make it through the thawing process before it can be fertilized and depending on whether or not a viable embryo is created, this process could have to be repeated. Long story short, I began the process in August, thought I was going to go through the transfer in October, but didn’t get to transfer day until January. Although the wait was frustrating at times, in the end, I believe the timing was perfect and everything happened exactly as it should have.
- IVF is not easy, but it is humbling. I gained an entirely newfound admiration and appreciation for women who go through IVF. Ladies, it is HARD. I took hormones that gave me crazy moods and my emotions were on a pendulum swing. I gained weight due to all of the bloating and I had lots of nausea, cramps, and headaches. I will never forget the first time I had to give myself a shot in the stomach. It was the day I took my 4 year old to the hospital to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. That morning, I grabbed the skin on my stomach and injected a syringe of Lupron into my belly. Shew! I could do this! I did this every day for weeks while also taking oral hormones and rotating 2-4 patches of Estrogen on my belly. Shortly after, I also began doing the dreaded progesterone in oil injections. They go an inch into your muscle, but the worst part is the heaviness of the medicine going in. I would have bumps the size of golf balls on my hips and bruises as big as my palm. My husband gave me these shots until I was 12 weeks pregnant. Two times, we hit a blood vessel and would have to start all over. One of those times, I fainted. Here’s the thing… do not feel sorry for me. This taught me a huge lesson and gave me a huge respect and appreciation for women who desire so deeply to be moms. There are women who go through this process 6 times before ever having a child to call their own. Some never succeed at all. Pray for these women. I can remember being at the IVF clinic and getting my blood drawn. There was a lady next to me getting hers drawn too. I could hear her sobbing the whole time. Was this her 4th time with no luck? Was she just scared of the needle in her arm again? Were they determining if she had miscarried? I didn’t know, but I did know that so many women who sit in that chair have heavy grief and that I’m lucky I get to do this for a woman who gets to be a mom now. My discomfort was temporary. The woman I carried for endured cancer, intense cancer treatments and surgeries, and infertility. Now, she gets to be a mom. The shots don’t seem like such a big deal when you put it all into perspective.
- Not everyone will be supportive, but so many others will be. My sister in law had colon cancer. She can’t carry her own child. I offered to do this for her and her husband without any expectation of compensation. I did a good thing. I’m proud of that good thing and each and every time I get to see my little niece with her parents, knowing I held her in my womb so they could one day hold her in their arms is absolutely worth it. I care what people think. I want to inspire people and I want people to see what I did and believe they can bless others radically too. I cannot let others opinions and worries keep me from carrying out a calling. There were whispers, comments on social media, and so many opinions shared. Ultimately, what mattered most to me was being obedient to a calling I had on my heart. I had to choose not to let the nay-sayers hurt me. I wrote a prayer on my phone and every time I felt attacked or upset, I would open up that prayer and immediately feel at peace and confident in my decision to carry Adalyn. There were also tons of people – people I saw daily, people I didn’t know at all, who brought us so much encouragement. These people touched me in a way that I can’t describe. I didn’t really grasp until now that impact is measurable. I felt so much love and peace during this journey, and a huge part of that was knowing that my calling was making an impact on lots of people.
So, there you have it! Being a surrogate was a huge journey for sure and one that I never dreamed would become a reality for me, but I’m so thankful it did. Even with all of the obstacles, I would do it all over again for them. I’ll never forget watching my sister in law become a mom for the first time as she got to experience a love she once thought was impossible.
What other questions do you have for me about surrogacy? I’d love to answer them! Leave a comment below!