When a woman decides to become a surrogate mother, the vast majority of the time she does it to bring joy to another couple (or sometimes, a single parent). As part of her decision process, she often thinks through what the experience might be like and anticipates the excitement of pregnancy and birth.
She might even have a particular moment in the surrogacy process that she’s most looking forward to. It might be seeing two lines on her home pregnancy test or getting a call with good news from the fertility center, or sharing the baby’s first kicks with her intended parents, or watching her intended mother hold her baby for the very first time. Of course, all of these moments are incredibly special.
For me, though, the moment I looked forward to most was telling my intended parents that they were expecting. Unlike labor or birth or ultrasounds, sharing the news that I was expecting was a chance to do something creative that would surprise and delight my intended parents, so I always had a lot of fun with it.
So today I thought I’d share with you the various ways I told my intended parents that they were having a baby.
My intended mother taught me a photography printing technique (Polaroid transfer, if you’re curious) while we were in our two-week wait. Once I got a few days of positive HPTs (home pregnancy tests), I asked the fertility center for an early beta to confirm the pregnancy, but I asked them not to call my IPs until I’d given them a gift.
I photographed a still life of baby items, then printed it using the technique my IM had taught me, signed the print with my name, and called it “Expecting.” I framed it, then drove to her house during the day (when I knew she’d be at work) and left it in a gift bag on her doorknob.
Again I had an early beta to confirm my positive HPTs. This time I made my intended mother a bracelet that had the baby’s due date on it. I wrapped it up, then drove to my IP’s house and gave it to her. The look on her face when she realized what it meant was spectacular! She wore it every day throughout the pregnancy until the babies (we had twins) were born.
I was lucky again that my fertility center did an early beta once I got positive home tests. This time I shopped the grocery store for baby-themed food items – baby carrots, baby peas, Prego spaghetti sauce, etc. I filled a gift bag with the items and a handmade card and left it on their doorstep so they would find it when they came home from work. They called me, slightly confused, so I encouraged them to figure out the theme to all of the food. Eventually they got it and were very excited, of course!
OK, this one is a wee bit gross, so be forewarned!
It was around this time (2008) that digital pregnancy tests were first available, and you can imagine what a cool advancement they were HPTs! And I was lucky that my IPs lived about 30 minutes away from me, so I could pull this off.
Back then, the word “Pregnant” on a digital test would display only for a short time – maybe an hour at the very most. Because the tests were so novel, I really wanted them to see the results for themselves, but I also wanted to surprise them. I was worried about testing at home, then getting to their house in time for them to see the word “Pregnant” before it disappeared.
I bought the test and then peed in a small Tupperware container (with a tight-fitting lid, of course!). I told my IPs that I was going to be in their neighborhood and had something for them and wanted to drop it off. I parked my car several blocks away from their house, then using the urine that I’d brought along in the container, I did the digital test in the car. (Yes, ewwwww, but what else is a surrogate on a mission supposed to do?!? Let’s call me hormone-crazed, shall we? I will own up to that.)
Once the word “Pregnant” appeared, I put the test in a paper bag and drove the remaining few blocks to my IPs house. When I got there, I casually handed them the bag and let them see the results for themselves (needless to say, they were thrilled).
This surrogacy was for the same set of IPs as Surrogacy #4 and I didn’t have any particular plan in mind for how to tell them. I had gotten my first light positive HPT four days after the transfer. On the morning of the fifth day, I woke up very early (it was just before 5am) to use the bathroom, and decided to do another test, which was also positive. I went back to bed but was too excited to fall back asleep, so I grabbed my laptop, took it into bed with me, and checked my email.
A few minutes after 5am, my IM sent me an email asking me how I felt. For a split second I considered not answering her right away and playing it cool until I came up with a good idea for how to tell them. But I was kind of struck by the coincidence that we were both online at this crazy early hour. We had grown close from our previous surrogacy, and I thought there was something kind of cool to surprising her not only a super quick reply at this hour, but with a the positive results.
So I snapped a picture of the test and replied to her with it, and as you can imagine, she was quite surprised, and of course, delighted. It really was a great way to start the day!
This was the only one of my surrogacies that I carried for a set of intended fathers and I really wasn’t sure what would be meaningful to them. By then I was making a lot of quilts, both large and small, so I decided to make them a small, original art quilt for the wall that was surrogacy-inspired with modern-looking positive signs on it.
I hadn’t yet been to their house when I made it, so I took my best guess on colors. I wrapped it up and brought it to them one evening but one of them wasn’t home, so I left it there for them to open together later. I also enclosed a positive pregnancy test (sealed in a plastic bag, of course!) to spill the beans. When they called me later that night to thank me, they admired the quilt but didn’t know what to make of the pregnancy test – they had never seen one before! (and that possibility had never occurred to me – whoops!). Once I explained what the test meant and why I’d designed the quilt the way I did, they were thrilled of course.
This time I also made my intended parents a small quilt, but it was a more traditional design that was covered in plus signs. Because they lived almost 2 hours away from me, I had to overnight it to them (and I also enclosed a pregnancy test with it). When they called me to tell me they’d received it, they were over the moon with excitement – they knew what it meant right away!
I think many intended parents find out the results of the transfer from their fertility center – that’s probably the norm unless the surrogate is doing tests at home and she tells them (and obviously I did, I couldn’t resist). For me it was a really fun, creative, and personal way of sharing a very special moment – so much better than them getting a call from a nurse, in my opinion (no offense to nurses of course – news that you’re expecting a baby is great no matter who it comes from).
Coming up with really personal ways to share the good news was always a highlight of my surrogacy experiences, something I really had fun with and something I hope my intended parents remember for a long time!