Big Changes


Truth is, I’ve been trying to write this blog post for weeks. I would get about four sentences in and then I’d erase it all. I’m sure that’s a little confusing for most people considering I ended my last blog post on such a high note with everything finally being peaceful! Unfortunately, the sweet bliss was short lived and I ultimately decided to end my relationship with the surro-baby and his parents. This is a decision that did not come lightly and is something that I prayed about for quite some time. Our problems were abundant and emotionally taxing. At the end of the day I had to decide what my peace was worth.


 I knew that my relationship with the surro-baby would always go through the mother and it would be limited in nature due to their location in relation to mine. Considering the amount of unnecessary conflict we endured over the course of a year and a half I decided it wasn’t worth my mental health and my emotional well-being to continue that relationship. I’m incredibly disappointed that I don’t have the relationship with the family for which I had hoped but I know this was the right decision for my family and me. 


I’ve had SO many women ask about the process of becoming a surrogate and what that experience is like so I’m going to break it down into each step, what your expectations should be if you’re considering becoming a surrogate, and what I wish I had done differently now that I’m on the other side of it. 

Agency vs INdependent


I did not know a thing in the world about surrogacy so it was an easy decision for me to choose to go with an agency. They handled most of the paperwork and are supposed to make the entire process seamless. I chose Open Arms in Florida and I do not recommend them. There is one particular lady at OA that helped my tremendously in the end of my pregnancy and I’m so thankful for her. Otherwise, OA was a hot mess. There was a massive amount of miscommunication. Nobody advocated for me. They were only concerned with keeping everyone settled and smoothed over so that the (paying) intended parents wouldn’t cause them any issues. I do know women who had a great experience with OA but I personally will not recommend them to anyone. Pick another agency. Literally any other agency. 


I would only recommend going independent if you have been a surrogate in the past. This leaves ALL of the paperwork and legal documents up to you and the Intended Parents. It does save the IP’s a chunk of money to go independent, but I don’t recommend it if you aren’t very experienced with the process. 

Qualifying potential surrogate


You have to pass a few preliminary questions before you’re even considered.

Are you decently healthy? Age 21-39? Have a past healthy pregnancy? Have custody of your child? Financially secure?  


If the answer to all of those questions is yes, they will then pull all of your OB records and have you speak with a psychologist to determine if you are mentally healthy enough to proceed. I did my meeting via zoom and it lasted 2 hours long. 

Match Profiles


If you pass all of these requirements, you will be given 1 Intended parent profile at a time to view. These profiles tell you a little about the parents and why they are considering a surrogate. They also include deal breakers for them (selective reducation, pregnancy with multiples, multiple embryo transfers, etc). My best advice would be to know what you are comfortable with. I knew I would not selectively reduce an embryo. This would come into play if you got pregnant with twins or triplets but the family only wanted one baby. Some parents would opt to abort the second baby. I knew I was looking for IP’s who would not abort, wanted to transfer one embryo at a time, and were content with twins if the one embryo split into two. 


Once I found a profile that I really liked I agreed to have a zoom meeting with the parents to see how we felt about each other. After the meeting we both had 24 hours to decide if we would agree to match. 


(Let me back peddle a little. When I started this journey I consistency prayed that if this wasn’t meant to be then the door would be slammed in my face. I only wanted to do this and continue through each step if it was God’s Will for my life. THIS is where this prayer became significant.)


I agreed to zoom meet with a couple from Venezuela but they ultimately backed out due to the uncertainty with the state of their country. The second couple I agreed to match with ended up being the parents that I chose. They were/are located in America and we shared the same expectations for the pregnancy and life after. OR SO I THOUGHT. 


We both expected a large amount of contact through the pregnancy and agreed on a close relationship between surrogate and baby post delivery. Just a heads up for the potential surrogates out there, just because you agree to have a relationship with the baby afterwards DOES NOT mean that the parents are actually going to support or allow that. I truly believe these parents said everything I wanted to hear because they wanted a baby and were willing to do anything to get one. I also had to end communication with the mother on multiple occasions during the pregnancy because they refused to follow the  {legally binding} contract that we all signed and refused to treat me like a human being. I was simply a baby machine to her. 


People that are close to me and know how this pregnancy went have asked if I regret choosing them as the parents. This is something I struggled with for a long time. Did they deserve this baby? Was it my place to decide if they did? Would my experience have been better if I had chosen different parents? Did I just put a baby into a high-conflict household? I STRUGGLED with this.  Ultimately I found peace in knowing that I felt a calling to become a surrogate, I pursued that adventure with joy, I prayed over these parents and felt that God wanted me to carry a baby for them, and I made the best decision I could with the information I had. I’m still actively trying not to get caught up in the “what ifs.” These are the cards I was dealt and I played the best hand that I could. That’s all you can do. 

Clearance and Contracts


After you’ve all agreed that you want to proceed, you’ll meet their doctor for an exam and a few tests. I joke that every doctor in America has seen everything I’ve got going on. You get used to it quickly. Before surrogacy, I (like most girls) hated even going for an annual exam. Now, I’ll just show up to my appointments naked. Idc.


Kidding obviously. But really you get used to it. 


If you’re approved, you’ll move to contracts. 

THIS PART IS SO IMPORTANT. 

(I’ll write an entirely separate blog on what your contract should include. I have so many thoughts on this.)


I was so excited about moving forward that I didn’t negotiate hardly anything in my contract and I went with the first attorney OA offered me. (He sucked btw. Research your attorney before you sign with one.) I just wanted to get the pregnancy started! Bad move. BAD MOVE. I was so trusting and so gullible I really did think the parents had my best interest in mind. Wrong. 100% Wrong. The parents had THEIR best interest in mind and I should have had MY best interest in mind. I’ll take the blame for that one. A lot of heartache could have been avoided if I had really made my contract specific. 



So this entire process so far took from September to May to complete. It’s not a quick process. It’s a hurry-up and wait game. 

IVF


My IPs already had an embryo ready so we didn’t have to wait for that part. I started IVF which included two estradiol pills a day, a prenatal, a baby aspirin, and 1 progesterone injection per day for….I cant remember how many weeks…..it seemed like forever but maybe it was for a month before the embryo transfer?


The pressure to not miss a single dose was INTENSE. If you miss a dose, you decrease the chance of a successful transfer (which could cost the IPs up to $10,000). I set multiple alarms!


I also chose to do all but one of the injections myself until I was 10 weeks pregnant. (I let the mom do one injection right before the embryo transfer so that she could feel as involved as possible.) I really wanted the experience to refine my strength and determination. Let me tell you, it takes a lot of determination to jab an 18-guage needle into your hip with joy! I think it was between 70 and 80 total injections. I was keeping count but it became a blur after a while.


I thought the hormones weren’t that bad. My husband says otherwise. I’ll leave that at that.  

Pregnancy


After you have a confirmation of heartbeat you are released to your regular OB and the pregnancy continues just like any “normal” pregnancy. My pregnancy was uneventful. Everything was perfect and healthy. By contract, the parents were allowed to attend any appointment that they wanted but they only attended 1 or 2. 

Delivery


I ended up needing a c-section due to surro-baby being breach and flipping frequently. 


When it came time to deliver, I had already decided not to see the baby or the parents post-delivery because of the profound amount of problems we had just during the pregnancy. In our last big argument my blood pressure skyrocketed and I knew that it was not in the best interest of my health or…you know…. the health of their baby…to continue communicating.  I think if the roles were reversed I would have wanted my surrogate to be as calm as possible at all times just for the sake of the baby and I believe I would have tried to be as low-conflict as possible for that purpose. But that’s obviously not how it worked. 


I specifically remember lying on the table for the c-section and hearing the baby cry for the first time. I didn’t anticipate feeling anything at all but I immediately cried. Not because I wanted the baby. I didn’t. I still don’t. I never felt like he was mine. I cried because I felt that I was being left out of what should have been the most amazing experience for all of us. What should have been the peak of excitement was just me laying behind a curtain with no expectation of seeing the baby I had just carried for 9 months. I had never felt more used than I did in that moment and that is STILL so hard to talk about.



My OB and I joke that watching your baby be cut out of another woman must really chill you out! From delivery until about 2-3 months postpartum the mother was incredibly apologetic of her behavior through the pregnancy and shared pictures and updates of the baby in abundance. I did get to see the baby after delivery while we were all in the hospital and I am still SO grateful for those moments. Then the new wore off and it all went downhill. If I took a step closer to them, I was wrong. If I pulled back, I was wrong. Trying to find that balance with someone who was emotionally high maintenance was incredibly hard and so taxing. I ultimately decided to end the relationship. 

Recovery


I write all of this to say that if you are considering becoming a surrogate 1) I support you and I am here for ALL of your questions and 2) you might have the most amazing experience and I hope that you do. BUT I’m also writing this to be completely transparent (while hopefully remaining tactful) about my experience and to give some insight into how things could actually go and how they did go for me. 


I don’t regret being a surrogate.


I am so glad I did it and I’m thankful for what it taught me. I’m mentally stronger now than I ever was before and I know I completed the task I was called to do. 


But I won’t do it again. 

More images from Megan Mullins photography!