Why do women decide to become surrogates? And how does the process unfold? Canadian Fertility Consulting has started a new series of interviews with our surrogates to share stories from women just like you. Women who decided to take a leap of faith, change someone’s life forever, and make their dreams come true. This is Carley’s story.
Why did you become a surrogate?
I decided to become a surrogate because of my experience in the foster system. My foster mother always wanted another child but was unable to do so on her own. She had gone through several fertility treatments, but since they kept failing, I offered to be her surrogate. I’ve been wanting to help her for years, but she wasn’t quite ready yet, so I decided to go ahead and help another family in need in the meantime.
Who supported you most in your decision to be a surrogate?
The only person I told was my partner. He always knew it was something I wanted to do. I didn’t tell anyone else until I was pregnant and when I told our families and they were a bit surprised. They asked some questions but were overall respectful about my decision.
How did you explain surrogacy to your children?
I’m one of those parents who are super honest. I told my children that there are people out in the world who want kids of their own but aren’t able to have them, and that sometimes they need help, and we were going to help them. They were good about understanding that it wasn’t our baby and that it was for a family in need.
What was the medical process like in terms of taking medications and having procedures?
My medication started out by taking estrogen shots on day two of my period, which makes it period finish really fast and allows the lining to thicken. Following this the doctors also did a lining check, which involves an ultrasound of the uterus. It looked good, so they prepared me to have the eggs transferred.
I started antibiotics and injections five days before the transfer date, and these injections continued throughout the first twelve weeks of the pregnancy. The injections are self-administered, but I had my partner help me with them as they can get pretty painful after a while. The shots are a thick progesterone and ethyl oil, kind of like the consistency of vegetable oil, and if you don’t warm it up between your hands or something first, it can be super hard to inject and leave lumps under the skin.
The procedure itself is like a pap; it’s super quick. You go into the fertility clinic, you strip from the waist down and hop up into the stirrups. There are about five doctors in the room, some are behind glass getting the embryo defrosted and ready for implantation. The doctor puts the embryo in a tiny little catheter, they open you up with the speculum and pop it into place. It’s super quick, and not at all painful. After the transfer, they do a 10 day and 14 day post blood test, and in my case, I found out I was pregnant.
Why did you pick your intended parents?
I just really wanted to help someone who would be the right fit. After reading through several profiles, I came across my eventual intended parents. They had a really good story, they had been together for a really long time, and they had been trying for a child for a while. They owned a house, they had family near-by, and they just seemed like they had everything together and ready to go. They had been waiting for this for a really long time and I felt compelled to help them. When we had our very first Skype call, I said: “I like you, let’s do this” and they said: “I like you, let’s do this” so, we did it. We didn’t wait for the usual two weeks ‘dating period’ to pass, we just went ahead and got started.
What was your relationship with them like?
So, we were not best friends, which I think a lot of surrogates tend to look for. But we were friendly throughout the process. We had weekly conversations where we talked about the pregnancy and what was going on in each-other’s lives. They came to every single one of my appointments, which was nice. In the end, it was the type of relationship that I wanted. I didn’t want to be best friends because I was afraid of developing that relationship and then having it disappear. I wanted a comfortable relationship where we were able to keep in contact after without being disappointed if things didn’t turn out a certain way.
Did you have expectations about your relationship with them? Did reality turn out similarly?
My expectations going in were that I wanted to have future contact, because I wanted to have updates after the birth. Throughout the relationship we were friendly acquaintances, which is what we both wanted. After I delivered, we have stayed in contact. I still get check-ins and updates, and I got a lovely message for the holidays and that was all I really wanted.
What was your surrogate pregnancy like?
It wasn’t really any different than my two previous pregnancies. The only difference was there were certain surrogacy related things that I needed to take into consideration. For example, when I wanted to take Tylenol I needed clearance from my doctor first. Other than that, it was pretty much the same.
How did surrogacy change your life?
It felt good to do something nice for someone else. Nice in the way of changing their life and making their dreams come true. You don’t always have the opportunity to make someone else’s dreams come true, but with surrogacy, you get that opportunity.
What was the best part of your surrogacy journey?
The delivery. So, after I delivered my surro-babe, right after I pushed him out, I decided in that moment that I really wanted to hand him off to his parents. So, I did. The nurse came to hand him over, and I said “No, I would really like to do it”. My nurse helped me hand off the baby to the intended parents, who I don’t think had ever held a baby before, and just seeing their smile, and how excited they were, just all of that emotion in the room, it makes me cry just thinking about it.
What would you say to someone considering surrogacy?
Do your research. Know what you are signing up for and what you are agreeing to. I talked to other surrogates through forums and looked into three other agencies before I decided to go with Canadian Fertility Consulting. I also talked to independent surrogates and decided that having an agency to protect my best interests was the best option for me. But most importantly, go into the surrogacy process with an open heart.
Would you consider being a surrogate again? Why or why not?
I have already signed up to be a surrogate again. I really want to help another family. It’s not for everyone, but I think it’s an amazing way to help other people for those who can.