Friday 13 July 2018

Ask A Surrogate

Surrogacy isn't something that many people come across too often, although you would probably be surprised at how common it is now becoming. When I was researching surrogacy, there were so many questions that I wanted to ask experienced surrogates, purely for my own knowledge and curiosity.
I took to a blogger group to find out exactly what they wanted to know about being a surrogate.

Sarah asked "Do you have to go through health screening checks before you are able to become a surrogate?" - Yes you do. Mine were done at the fertility clinic at we used and consisted of having my blood checked for anything and everything. Thankfully I was given the all clear to go ahead. Also, most clinics require approval from your GP to be able to go ahead with surrogacy. Even those surrogates who do not use clinics (traditional surrogates) are required to ensure that all bloods, STI checks etc are undertaken beforehand.

Hayley asked "How have health professionals i.e midwives etc been whilst you've been going through your pregnancy appointments, scans etc with you and babies parents?" - I honestly cannot fault the midwives that I have seen so far. This is actually my community midwifes first ever surrogacy journey, so she is learning as she goes too! Before we even got to the dating scan, she had liased with the hospital to ensure that there was a plan in place for us when we go in for the labour. They have always ensured that relevant questions are asked to the babies parents and not me, such as certain screenings during the scans etc. They have also really helped the babies mum in obtaining further information and referral to be able to breastfeed too!

Rebecca's question was "When getting a scan I was only allowed one person in with me, is this different for you and the babies parents?" - Luckily it is. Well, somewhat. At both of our hospital scans we have had to explain the issue each time, unfortunately in a packed waiting area. The first time they let us all straight in, but the second time the sonographer had to go and double check with their management. Thankfully both parents were allowed in which is how it should be of course.

"How did you explain that you are carrying someone else's baby to your children?" was the question that Charlotte asked. At the moment, I only have my eldest to worry about with this as my youngest is only 11 months old. It helped that as a family, we knew the babies parents for quite a long time beforehand and Aoife has known them all of her life. It did take a while for her to fully understand it but now she loves telling people about it. So much so that I don't think people actually believe her half the time! 
Charlotte asked "Are you nervous about giving the baby you have carried for nine months to the parents? Do you think this will impact your mental health?" - This is actually something I am asked so much! I'm not nervous at all - from the start I was in the right frame of mind in the sense that the baby isn't mine. All I am doing is babysitting for the first nine months. If a surrogate goes into something like this with any doubt at all, then they shouldn't do it. Too much is at stake and it can ruin lives if something were to happen.

Beth asked "Are you going to keep in contact with the baby after you have given birth?" - Yes absolutely! I have known the parents for a long time, well before I ever agreed to be their surrogate.

A question from Sarah was "I had planned to donate my eggs but because of my weight I am unable, is there similar restrictions with surrogacy or can anyone offer their womb to help?" - Restrictions can differ depending on the clinic and the type of surrogacy you wish to go through. For example, Gestational Surrogates usually encounter the most restrictions as they have to go through clinics, each of which will have their own rules. With Traditional Surrogates, the main restriction would likely be age, as the surrogates own eggs are being used and we know that egg quality diminishes with age.

Victoria wanted to know "What's your motivation for being a surrogate? Would you get maternity leave if you have a you're employed? How do you prepare for the post-birth questions like "how's the baby?" etc or does everyone that would ask know that you're a surrogate?" - I actually never wanted children of my own, however when I was in my mid teens I was told that I would be lucky to conceive naturally. I vowed from then that if I were to ever be so lucky then I would do it for someone else. Luckily, I was blessed with my two girls! I can't imagine my life without them now and it hurts to know that there are couples who will not get that experience. As a surrogate I am entitled to all maternity rights, the same as any other pregnant woman - I get time off for all appointments and will be entitled to a year off work. However, my plan is to take approximately 8 weeks off so that I can enjoy being off over Christmas with my family. I am not quiet about the fact that the baby I'm carrying isn't mine - I returned to work after my own maternity leave with a 19 week pregnancy bump so that in itself caused a few looks!

"How do you feel emotionally about it all? Are you trying to stay a bit disconnected from the baby by not getting excited over the kicks etc?" was the question Emma asked. When it comes to emotions, I will admit that I am excited. But for the parents - I know the struggles they have had to deal with to get to this point and I can't wait to see them as a family. In regards to kicks etc, I'll be honest in saying I barely notice them as I'm so busy with my girls! It was the same with my youngests pregnancy too. However, I have taken time to record the heart beat on a doppler for the parents and I've been trying to catch movements on camera to send to them.

Jeannette asked "How did your partner feel when you said you were going to be a surrogate? I really, really wanted to carry a child for our friends who had fertility issues but my husband was very much against it and is there an upper age limit for surrogates?" - I think at first he was worried about me. He knows that I would like to keep in touch with the parents after the journey was completed to see how the little one was getting on etc, but he was always concerned that if I did it for someone then they would basically "do a runner" afterwards. Luckily, he also knows the couple that we are helping and those worries have gone. With age limits this would be down to the clinic that you wish to use. I know some women who are in their 40s and 50s who have been surrogates!

Kristine asked "What made you decide to become a surrogate mother? Are you nervous? What do you think will happen after many years when kid grows up and you happen to meet them?" - Surrogacy is something I have wanted to do since I was 15 when my own fertility was questionned. No nerves at all, just excitement knowing that I'm able to help someone who deserves the love of a child calling them Mummy and Daddy. I will actually be a part of the child's life forever - we have known the couple for a long, long time so I have no worries for this - the little one will also be brought up by their parents to know exactly how they came into this world.

Jade's question was "How do you chose a set of parents to be a surrogate for or is there some sort of system that makes some people more deserving than the other? And how do you feel about essentially strangers watching you give birth?" - There are two ways in which you can go through surrogacy and match with a couple; independently and through an agency. Independently is usually done through Facebook groups, or knowing friends or family who need help. I ended up going down this route, so I don't have a lot of knowledge on agency matching - from what I gather, you are given profiles of parents and then decide who you want to get to know a bit more. I'm very lucky in that I have known the couple for a long time, so it doesn't bother me them being at the labour - although everyone has been told to stay away from the business end. Essentially though, by the time the labour comes around, the couple aren't strangers to you. The whole surrogacy process can take years for some people; they may want to get to know people for a year or two before taking the next step.

I'd love to hear from you if you have any questions not covered here!

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