“Yep, she’s pregnant again, but this time it’s not mine.”
This one-liner became my husband’s (oh-so hilarious) punchline during my first surrogacy back in 2016. It was statement that made people think twice before they nervously laughed. I would then follow up, as quickly as possible, with “I’m a surrogate. The baby isn’t mine, either.”
This statement was always met with questions and comments and accolades. Generally, I was regaled as a saint — or a crazy person. Strangers and friends alike couldn’t ask enough questions about my surrogacy, the process, the how and, most often, the why.
Some facts about surrogacy in the United States
While accurate surrogate numbers are hard to come by, it is widely estimated that about nine children are born via a surrogate in each state each year. Surrogacy commonly costs intended parents (IPs) upwards of $100,000, making it a costly endeavor. Individuals and couples turn to surrogacy for a variety of reasons, most often because the intended mother is unable to get or stay pregnant herself. Surrogate insurance is becoming a more common concern for IPs these days. More and more insurers are starting to include surrogacy clauses into their coverage policies, meaning that surrogates (or gestational carriers, GCs) are not covered in the event that they are carrying children for other individuals.
Honest answers about surrogacy
People found my willingness to be pregnant for someone else endlessly fascinating. Most people, it seemed, had not liked being pregnant and couldn’t wrap their heads around volunteering to be pregnant for someone else. Others didn’t understand if my husband or I were biologically related to the child I was carrying in any way. So many mused that they couldn’t possibly “give up a baby I’d nurtured and carried for nine months.”
As I prepare for a second surrogacy (we are working on the legal contract as I type), I am mentally preparing myself for the myriads of questions that will be posed by friends and strangers alike. Since so many people generally as the same questions, I thought I would answer the most common ones here.
Question: Is the child yours? Or your husband’s?
No. I am not related to the child I did carry and the one I hopefully will. Oftentimes, the embryos that are transferred to the surrogate are biologically the IPs children. Sometimes, however, a woman or a man or men, choose to use donated eggs or sperm. Regardless, I am not carrying a child I am related to. The bundle of love in my oven is created in a lab and then transferred to me in a sterile room by doctors for nine months of safe keeping.
Question: Isn’t it hard to carry a baby for nine months and then give it away? Don’t you get attached?
To be honest, I worried a bit about this myself going in to my first surrogacy. I wondered if I would have a hard time parting with a baby who had grown in my womb. But the answer is no. No, it’s not hard to give that baby to his parents. There are two ways I normally answer this question.
1. I’m not giving this baby away, I’m giving him back. He was never mine to begin with. And these babies have parents and sometimes siblings who want them so dearly that there isn’t a doubt in your mind that baby is going where he belongs.
2. Being a surrogate is similar to being a babysitter, which may sound silly or odd. But it’s also true. When you babysit a child, you are happy to be that child’s protector and caregiver when his mom or dad needs you to be. But you are just as happy, and then end of your “shift,” to give him back to the parents who adore him. That kiddo I grew was a sweet little miracle and I was so happy to be part of bringing him earthside, but he was never meant to be mine.
Question: What made you want to be a surrogate?
Truth be told, I have no idea! That’s crazy, right? But seriously… I talked about being a surrogate from my first pregnancy on. I genuinely enjoy pregnancy. Thankfully, I don’t experience morning sickness, or back pain, or swollen limbs the way many of my friends did. Other than the no-drinking part, I enjoy pregnancy from start to finish. I think it’s such an incredible time in a woman’s life. I knew after I had my third daughter that my husband was done having kids, but I didn’t know if I was done being pregnant.
When I applied to a surrogacy agency, I got so many questions and comments from friends and family. No one understood why I wanted to be pregnant again and not bring home a baby! I’ll be honest here- it makes recovering from childbirth significantly easier when you can sleep all night.
Question: What’s it like, the surrogacy process?
From a biological standpoint, surrogacy is just IVF. But instead of transferring my own embryo, I have someone else’s transferred to me. Once the embryo sticks, the pregnancy is the same as any natural pregnancy is or would be. I’ll be honest: the medications are rough. I had a box of syringes arrive the other day. I’d forgotten how big the needs that deliver progesterone in oil are. I had to give myself a bit of a pep talk as I put them in the medicine cabinet, hoping to use them in a few short months. From start the finish, the medications are probably the most difficult part.
From a “do you know your IPs standpoint,” I use an agency. At the time of my first surrogacy, I didn’t know anyone who was looking for a surrogate and didn’t know how to find someone in search of a surrogate. So I applied to a few agencies and spoke to the one that aligned most with what I wanted. The application part is lengthy. You had to submit records from all births you’ve had going back a decade. You go through background checks (you are your SO) and a home check, and then have to go through a psychological evaluation. Once an applicant clears these checks, the matching process begins! Matching is harder than you would ever imagine. You really have to find someone whose values align with yours. And once you find a person or people, then the fun really begins!
I love talking about surrogacy and answering questions about surrogacy! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly at everythingarlingtontx@gmail.