Over the years I have had many opportunities to talk with people considering or going through surrogacy. I’ve long been fascinated by the ways that heretofore strangers come together, trust each other and creatively share a pregnancy, often long distance. As a family building counselor, I have readily dispensed advise to surrogacy participants, especially to the intended parents. I did so with keen awareness that I had never been in their shoes, that what I was telling them was based on observation of what had to be a uniquely challenging—and remarkably rewarding experience. Everything changed one year ago when we learned that my daughter needed a surrogate (gestational carrier). It is my pleasure to write a series of blogs, “From Both Sides Now”—what I have learned from first observing and now living surrogacy.
Worth The Wait
I remember telling people “You have to like your GC a lot. You have to feel certain that ‘she’s the one’ when you meet her. You will be entrusting your precious unborn child to her. You have to really really like her.”
This person—that you will like so much and trust without question—may not come along as soon as you would like. I’ve observed– and now I’ve learned first hand– that so much of this process is about waiting. You need to wait for a doctor’s appointment and later, to see how many follicles you have. Then you need to wait to see if the eggs fertilize and if they do, there may be yet another wait for the results of genetic testing. And now you may need to wait for what feels like a long time to be matched with the GC who will be right for you.
While you wait, you may be tempted to modify your criteria. You thought you only wanted an experienced GC, but now you are wondering if a first time carrier might be ok. You were certain you wanted someone no more than a 2 hour’s drive away and now you are beginning to revisit geography. You wanted someone who was an at home mother and are now wondering if someone with a full time job outside the home would be ok as well. I think it is important to be as flexible as you can in general, but remain inflexible about what matters most: you’ve got to really really like her. You’ve got to feel that “she’s the one.”
Over the past ten months or so, I’ve had the opportunity to experience—up close and personal—how wonderful it feels to be working with the right GC. I’ll offer up but a few examples of what I have seen with my daughter, Becky and her GC, Mira (I’ve changed their names to respect their privacy) . Although they liked each other from the start, the bond between them has grown stronger since the first embryo transfer. Although it was followed by a negative pregnancy test, this demoralizing experience brought the two women closer together. They shared their sadness and their resolve to forge ahead. Although Mira promised herself and everyone else that she wouldn’t do another home pregnancy test, she couldn’t resist. She began testing about a week following transfer and when several “pee tests” were positive, she sent Becky the following text, “ What would you think if I did a home pregnancy test?” On reading this, Becky knew something was up—it was early in the morning and she couldn’t help wonder if Mira had already done the test (which has to be done first thing). She texted back, “That would be fine.” Moments later she received a texted photo of a positive pregnancy test with the accompanying words, “You guys are going to have a baby!!”
Here is just one more example to illustrate that the right GC is worth the wait. Becky and her husband not only adore Mira’s whole family. They look forward to doctor’s appointments not only to see their unborn child on the ultrasound monitor or to feel the baby when they touch Mira’s belly but also, because they get to see Mira’s husband and kids. In particular, her six year old daughter has played a delightful role in the process. She was there for the first good ultrasound. She’s been there at each subsequent appointment. At the most recent one, the OB let her help hold the Doppler as she checked the baby’s heart beat.
Surrogacy is not a first choice experience. Most every expectant mom wishes she could carry her own baby. Gay fathers know they can’t be pregnant but many wish that there was an easier path for them to parenthood. Finding the right GC does not erase all disappointment but it certainly diminishes worries associated with surrogacy. And there are moments of unanticipated joy. I look forward to talking about them in a future blog.