Why do women decide to become surrogates? And how does the process unfold? Canadian Fertility Consulting continues this 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 Kristy’s story:
1. Why did you become a surrogate?
I wanted to become a surrogate to help create a family for someone and give them the gift of parenthood, which they thought might not have ever happened. At first, I didn’t know surrogacy was an option in Canada. When my husband and I first got married, we struggled with some infertility issues ourselves. We were told we might not be able to have kids, but luckily ended up having five of our own without any assistance. I felt so blessed and knew my family was complete, but I loved being pregnant. I had a friend who was a surrogate, and she introduced me to the fact that I too could be a surrogate. I started discussing surrogacy with my husband and we decided this was something we wanted to pursue together. Once I started looking for an agency, I found Canadian Fertility Consulting and never looked back.
2. Who supported you most in your decision to be a surrogate?
My husband is my number one supporter. He’s always been supportive of me in life, and I think it’s really great how we can support each other with our hopes, dreams and desires. Besides my husband, my mother and father were also very supportive
3. How did you explain surrogacy to your children?
Since our children range in age, their understanding of how babies are made also varies. With our older kids we explained we were helping by having a baby, but the baby wasn’t ours genetically, and we explained to all of our kids that the baby wouldn’t be their sibling. With the little ones, we told them that the doctor is going to put someone else’s baby in my tummy where it will grow, and once the baby is born it will go to its family where it belongs.
4. How many journeys have you done so far?
I’ve been matched 3 times. For my first journey we were together for three years but it was ultimately unsuccessful. They were a heterosexual couple from Canada, and the Intended Mother was attempting to use her own eggs. Unfortunately, due to her advanced maternal age, the couple knew they a slim success rate and we were unable to get pregnant because of that. I completed one journey with another couple, and I’m currently pregnant with my second journey. Both of these successful journeys are with Intended Fathers from Spain.
5. What was the medical process like, taking medications and having procedures?
The first part of process is the medical screening, to make sure that both parties are healthy enough to continue. After the medical screening I had an appointment with a fertility counsellor to make sure I was in a good place in terms of my mental health, and that I would have a strong support team to help me with the emotional side of things. After the screenings, I had to take medication to prepare for the embryo transfer. I had to take hormones to prepare my body to receive the embryo, which meant I took intramuscular injections twice a day for about two weeks before my transfer date, on top of my prenatal vitamin and low dose aspirin. Five days before the embryo transfer, I started a new hormonal daily injection which I still take. I’m currently seven weeks pregnant, and I’ll continue have injections until 10 weeks depending on how my levels look. The clinic carefully monitors those things to ensure everything looks healthy for the pregnancy.
6. Why did you pick your intended parents? (How did you go about picking your intended parents?)
Canadian Fertility Consulting sent me a bunch of Intended Parent profiles that I had a chance to look through. When I found a couple that appealed to me, I let CFC know and they reached out to them with my profile. If the intended parents were interested in meeting me, then CFC set up a meeting for us. The first meeting with my current couple was a Skype date to introduce us because they were in Spain. We had about two weeks to get to know each other on our own time. It’s almost like dating, and we spent those two weeks talking over WhatsApp, about what’s important to us and what we’re hoping to experience during our shared surrogacy journey.
7. Did you have expectations about your relationship with them? Did reality turn out similarly?
It’s really important to me that we have open communication and honesty. I want to work with a couple who also want a lot of contact with one another. When I was pregnant with my own babies, I would talk to my husband about everything about the pregnancy all day long to make sure he was involved. Since this isn’t my baby, if the roles were reversed and I was the Intended Parent, I would want to know all the little details and how everything was going throughout the day. Since open communication is a big part of my personality, so I was hoping to match with someone who would want a close relationship with lots of talking.
8. What was your relationship with them like?
We have a close relationship and we talk every day. We’ve been matched for nine months and I just got pregnant last month, so we had a lot of time to build a relationship. I feel really close to them already and I hope it remains close throughout the pregnancy. We have both expressed to each other that after the baby is born, we want to remain in contact and they will send me updates.
With my last set of Intended Parents, our relationship was very similar to this one. We chatted almost every day, I would send them pictures of my belly growing, and they continue to send me updates about their little one. We don’t talk every day because they are busy with their newborn, but they do send me pictures or videos several times a week, so we still have that close relationship. They consider me like a special auntie to their baby and they are going to tell her where she came from as she grows.
8. What was it like working with Parents from Spain in particular?
I was really lucky with my first Intended Parents from Spain. One of the Intended Fathers was pretty much fluent, and the other had a pretty good grasp on the language but his partner could help translate with whatever he couldn’t understand. If his partner wasn’t there to help, we would use a translation app to help us. All in all, they both spoke English well enough that we did not have any difficulties. With my current couple from Spain, their English is even better so we have no problems at all. They are nine hours ahead of us, so it works out nicely. We have a chance to chat twice a day in the morning and in the evening, to start and end each day.
9. What have your surrogacy pregnancies been like?
They have been very, very similar to my own pregnancies other than all of the hormone injections. In a natural pregnancy, you of course you have the same hormones going on in your body, so for myself I did not have any complications. I know this isn’t the same for every surrogate, but for me they have both been like regular pregnancies for me.
10. What was the birth like?
The birth was great as far as it succeeded in what our goal was – to have a baby. We chose to have a hospital birth and both the Intended Fathers were there. I also had my husband, my mom and my oldest daughter – she’s 15 and she’s been at my last two births of my “keeper” kids, so it was nice to have my whole support team there to cheer me on. Of course, labour and birth are intense, but seeing my Intended Father’s faces at that moment of becoming a dad for the first time is indescribable. The whole room is filled with the emotion that comes with their whole hopes and dreams becoming fulfilled in that moment.
11. How did surrogacy change your life?
Surrogacy has impacted my life in really big ways. It’s helped me become more compassionate to those people that haven’t been able to have a family in a traditional sense, either because of infertility or because they are a gay couple. I’ve become much more compassionate in general. It has also helped me to broaden my world view. Prior to this I didn’t have strong opinions, but I’m a heterosexual woman, so I didn’t really consider other couple’s lifestyles. Surrogacy has helped me be more accepting and loving towards everyone, even more so than I was before, and it’s impacted my family and kids in the same ways.
10. How did your kids and family feel about your surrogacy?
My children have had the chance to be exposed to different lifestyles, different types of love, and different types of family. Surrogacy as a whole has been very impactful for them, and I hope as every mother does, that it helps make them better people.
12. What was the best part of your surrogacy journey?
I love watching as my surro-baby grows and develops and seeing them together as a family is so impactful. It’s the reason why I did this all in the first place. All the ups and downs of pregnancy, and all the daily injections, it makes all of the momentary struggles worth it. The joy of witnessing their journey as a family is truly inspiring.
13. What would you say to someone considering surrogacy?
Definitely take your time to consider it, and make sure you have learned as much as you can about the whole process. Be sure to examine your own life to make sure you’re ready. It might be the right time, but it also may not be, and if it’s not you can always work on improving your life or make the necessary changes to ensure this is the right time for you. Surrogacy is a big commitment and it’s not just about being pregnant for 9 months. It’s about making sure that you’re being responsible with your medications, appointments, and communication with your Intended Parents and the clinic. Even though it’s a big responsibility, surrogacy continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life.