Janet’s Surrogacy Story

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1.Why did you become a surrogate? 

I started with surrogacy because a friend of the family was a surrogate, and I was able to watch as her journey progressed, and it seemed like a pretty awesome thing to do. I talked about it with my husband but we weren’t quite ready to do it yet. Fast forward a couple of years and I told him “Ok, I want to be pregnant”. I have five children of my own, and I wanted to have another baby because I like being pregnant but my tubes are tied, so my husband mentioned looking into surrogacy again. The very next day, an ad for Canadian Fertility Consulting showed up on my Facebook so I thought it was a sign! I clicked on the link and signed up, and I started talking to Courtney in Intake that very same day.

2. Who supported you most in your decision to be a surrogate? 

My husband was my biggest supporter. Like I mentioned, he was the one who mentioned I look back into surrogacy. For my first journey, he went to every single doctor’s appointment with me without fail. During my second journey, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to attend any of them because our schedules didn’t align, but he was always there for me in other ways. Whether I was going out and getting me slushies at midnight or holding my hand while I was pushing during my deliveries, he was always there for when I needed him. My family was also supportive. My dad never really told me how proud he was of me. He was mostly concerned about my recovery and making sure that I took it easy during my post-partum. But while he was sick, he would tell all of his nurses about how proud he was of me for doing this. Although he has passed, knowing that and having that support from him will always stay with me.

3. How did you explain surrogacy to your children?

I’ve completed two surrogacy journeys so far, and I’m about to start my third. My children have always been very supportive. They were all much younger when I did my first journey, between the ages of 3 to 13, and I simply told them: “I’m going to have a baby for two daddies”. At the time they were a little surprised about it being two dads, but I explained how much they loved each other and that boys can’t have babies, so I’m going to help them. They’ve been there throughout the entire journeys; they talk to my Intended Parents in video chat, they talk to the baby through my belly, and they’ve all been very excited to meet the babies once they’ve been born. They all understand the process at this point, they’ve grown to be between 6 to 16, and they were always understanding of that fact that this wasn’t our baby to keep.

4. What was it like working with International Intended Parents?

My first set of Intended Fathers were from France, the second set were from Argentina but were living in Montreal and have recently moved to Spain, and my current pair of Intended Fathers are from Calgary. Working with International Intended Parents was really good. I actually talk to them more than I talk to my own extended family, still to this day. We texted pretty much every day, and I would send them pictures all the time. They were always involved 100% of the time in everything that I was doing. I was fortunate, as my couples were all very good with their English. One of my Spanish Intended Fathers has a bit of trouble speaking English, but his partner would just help translate for him.

5. What was the medical process like, taking medications and having procedures? 

There were so many needles! I would cringe and hold my pillow so tight every time my husband would help me with an injection. He actually administered every single one of my needles for my first journey. For my second journey, he helped me with a couple of them, but I attended the Sacred Surrogacy retreat in Brantford shortly into my journey. While I was there, one of the other surrogates, Katie, showed me her technique. Once I learned how to do it myself, it hurt so much less, and I never asked for my husband’s help again. He would always be so careful and go super slowly, but I found it helps to start off slow to get it started, and then jab it in and get it over with faster. Near the end, I got very tender though, and I had lumps even after I finished the medication side of things and I was further along with my pregnancy. I also had to take Aspirin and my Pre-natal vitamins, Estrogen, along with my Progesterone shots.

My first transfer was in San Diego, and the procedure was actually very easy and painless. I was able to watch the doctors pick up the embryo on the screen and transfer it into my body. It was really interesting to watch. My Intended Fathers were on video chat the whole time, and my husband was holding the phone so they could see what was happening. I could hear them crying in the background, it was really sweet. My second transfer was at the CReATe Fertility Centre in Toronto, and it went just as well as the first. My Intended Fathers were able to attend the transfer, and we ended up transferring two embryos at the time. Usually, only one embryo is transferred, but because the embryos were “mosaic”, they had both good and bad qualities and we weren’t sure if they would make it. It’s very rare to have a double embryos transfer, but because they knew the embryos were “mosaic, the Intended Fathers had this stipulation in our contract. When I went for my ultrasound, we saw that only one of the embryos had stuck. I was also back every two weeks for ultrasounds to make sure that everything was ok until I hit the twelve-week mark.

6. Why did you pick your intended parents? 

I made my selection based on age, gender, and language. I was sent a bunch of profiles based on my preferences. The first couple I selected, their clinic didn’t accept me because of the medication that I’m on. The second couple I selected, Courtney introduced us, and we were talking within a couple of hours, so it was a super quick process for me. It only took me two weeks from the moment I signed up to meet my Intended Parents. I signed up at the end of January, I had my screening appointment in April, and I was pregnant at the beginning of September. My second set of Intended Parents were introduced to me through a friend of mine who had tried to be their surrogate but had multiple failed transfers with that couple. She told me how amazing these guys are, and she asked me if I was interested in helping them. I was twenty weeks along in my first journey, and after I met them, I was already signing up to do it all over again. So, while I was pregnant with my first surro-baby, I was keeping both sets on Intended Parents up to date with my progress.

7. What was your relationship like with them?

I had amazing relationships with both sets of Intended Fathers, and they continue to be amazing. We’re constantly texting and exchanging photos. I actually introduced my two sets of Intended Fathers to each other, and I think they’re starting to get pretty close too. My Intended Fathers from Spain wanted to meet my first couple from France, and the meet their little girl because they thought of her like she was their own daughter’s sister, in a way. So, they’ve been talking and are interested in meeting at some point. I would love to have both sets come and visit one day to have a big family reunion of sorts. I had the first baby in May, and then I just needed one natural cycle before my next transfer in August, and then I gave birth to the next little girl this past March. I had two babies ten months apart.

8. Did you have expectations about your relationship with them? Did reality turn out similarly?

The only expectations that I had were to go through the pregnancies, have these babies for my Intended Parents and talk to them once in a while. I was hopeful about maintaining a friendship after, but it wasn’t necessary. My expectations were beyond exceeded, and my relationships with all of my Intended Fathers turned out way better than I could have ever imagined. I also find it amazing that they’re both close now and are friends too.

9. What was your surrogate pregnancy like? 

For my first surrogacy pregnancy, I felt very sick. I was sick during my own five pregnancies as well, but nothing like this. My last surrogacy pregnancy, I wasn’t as sick, and I felt pretty decent up until I had her. She was premature and I was measuring 40 weeks when I was only 32 weeks pregnant, so I was pretty big. I also got diagnosed with gestational diabetes the last time I was pregnant, which I had never experienced before. Despite all of the sickness that I experience, I’m still so excited to get pregnant again. I just love the feeling of all of the little movements and kicks. I also love delivery – it’s my favourite part of the entire pregnancy experience. I find labour to be incredible, and you are adding something beautiful to the world. My husband even told my IP’s that they needed to be there to witness the birth because watching your baby being born is a really beautiful thing.

10. What was your experience with giving birth?

I prepared for my first surrogacy labour by taking Hypnobirthing classes. It was taught to me by another surrogate named Janet Fotheringham, and it helped me practise different breathing techniques during the birth and not to be easily distracted by the pain. For that labour, I decided to go natural and the hypnobirthing really helped with that. I would feel the pain of the contractions, but it didn’t bother me. The only part that I found painful was the pushing, which was so painful that I actually threw up.

For the second surrogacy birth, I wasn’t as prepared because she was premature, and I ended up needing the epidural. I lost my mucus plug at four in the morning, and really didn’t think much of it, but I called my midwife anyways and she recommended I go to the hospital to get checked out. They asked me if I was experiencing any contractions, and I told them no, but once they hooked me up to the monitor, they realised I was in labour. I just thought I was experiencing Braxton Hicks, but I was having contractions every 7-9 minutes. They did blood work on me, and they wanted to check that I wasn’t experiencing false labour. When she checked me, I was already four centimetres dilated, and confirmed that the baby was really coming. I had to text my guys and let them know that their baby was coming early. They had to drive in from Montreal but they missed the birth by about five hours. At this point, they moved me into my own room, and they wanted to stop the birth, so they gave me a shot of medication, and another one to try and strengthen the baby’s lungs. These medications just didn’t work. Suddenly, I went from not even realising that I was having contractions to begging for the epidural because I was in so much pain.

When the anesthesiologist was finally ready to give me the dual epidural, she gave me the first shot while I was standing, and then when I went to lie down for the second part, she couldn’t find the babies heartbeat on the monitor. She went to roll me over to find the heartbeat, and suddenly we heard a cry. The nurse lifted up the sheet and there the baby was! I thought it was a baby from another room, I didn’t even feel her coming out. I didn’t push or anything! No one ever believes me when I tell them this story, she literally slipped right out. The nurse was a bit stunned, so I reached down and grabbed her. When the IPs came, they went to see her in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, and the hospital offered them a room and they were able to stay in the hospital for three weeks with her. She needed to be on a ventilator for about a day, and a feeding tube for two weeks. Other than that, she was off all of the monitors after the first week and a half. She was very healthy, especially given her gestational age.

11. How did surrogacy change your life? 

Surrogacy definitely made my life a lot better. Knowing that I’m able to do this for others has given me so much hope in life. It’s such an amazing thing to be able to give others the gift of having a child. I feel like I’m a better person because of it. I’m very surrogacy friendly because of my own experiences. I want to help other surrogates in any way that I can and be an active part of the community and show people what they’re capable of. Before I became a surrogate, I would have never fully understood emotionally what it’s like, but now that I’ve completed my two journeys so far, I’m like: let’s give babies to everyone!

12. What was the best part of your surrogacy journey? 

Seeing the Dad’s faces when they saw their baby for the first time and seeing how happy they were. Especially for my first set, because they were actually there for the birth. Sharing those moments with my IPs were always the most special, like having the transfer and them being able to watch through their phone. Just seeing how happy t

13. What would you say to someone considering surrogacy? 

Do it! If you can, absolutely look into it and do your research. Don’t expect it to always go as planned, and don’t expect it to be easy. Make sure you’re educated about your medication protocol and make sure you discuss your communication expectations with your Intended Parents. If it’s right for you and your family, and you have the right support systems, just go for it!

14. Would you consider being a surrogate again? Why? 

I’m getting ready for my next journey with Canadian Fertility Consulting right now! I’m also already planning my fourth journey afterwards. I want to complete a sibling journey for my other Intended Fathers, but they’re not quite ready just yet. So, if I can help another couple in the meantime, I’m all for it. That’s part of the reason why I selected my current set of IPs, because they’ve already created embryos, and I want to get started on this right away. I love seeing how happy this makes the Intended Parents, and I want to continue being a surrogate for as long as I possibly can.