“How did you get into THAT?!?” is usually the first question I’m asked once people find out that I was a surrogate mother. Which is then closely followed by “…and you did it HOW many times?”
Seven times. I carried babies for other couples seven times between 2002 and 2013, and delivered nine surrogate babies (two sets of twins). So obviously I really, really enjoyed it, because who would be crazy enough to go through all that if they didn’t?
Even as a young child, I knew I always wanted children. I was an only child and didn’t much enjoy it, so I knew I wanted to have several children of my own.
When I met my husband-to-be in college, he was just as into the idea of wanting kids as I was (yeah, we were weird, I think it was actually on our first date that we talked about how much we each wanted to have a family).
We married at age 24 and I started trying to get pregnant around age 25, but it wasn’t happening. I never got my period after going off of birth control pills, and I wasn’t ovulating. My doctor gave me several rounds of drugs to try to bring on my period, but it never worked, despite all my blood tests being normal.
This was the mid-1990s, which was still the very, very early days of the internet. There weren’t so much websites at the time as there were “chat groups” based around various interests, so I joined one on infertility in search of information and support in my quest to get pregnant.
It was as a member of this group that I first learned about the idea of surrogacy as a “real’ thing – of course I ‘d heard of it before, but mostly in the context of overly dramatic made-for-TV movies. But through this group, I came to realize that surrogacy was a solution for some infertile couples – nice, seemingly normal couples.
In my own infertility journey, I tried several rounds of Clomid, maxing out on the dosage (and not-so-silently freaking out about conceiving triplets or more), but even still, I was not ovulating.
My husband and I underwent several life changes during that time – a huge job change, selling one house while buying another, moving into my in-law’s house while we renovated the new place, etc.
It was during our last weekend in our own house, after we’d put fertility treatments on hold until our lives stabilized a bit, that we got pregnant. It was the first time I’d ovulated in more than six years. That morning I was at the grocery store and something told me to buy an ovulation predictor kit, even though I’d never had one give me a positive result, ever. When that thing lit up blue that morning, I was telling my husband exactly where to report!
And the rest, as they say, is history.
But it was only the beginning!
I had an easy, uncomplicated pregnancy and I loved every minute of it. Not only was I happy that we were finally having a baby, I couldn’t imagine a better state to be in than pregnancy.
My delivery was easy too, as first deliveries go. It was an induction (my water broke but the contractions didn’t start) that took eight hours, including one hour of pushing.
It was about 15 minutes after my daughter was born that the exhilaration of the experience hit me. I leaned back in the bed, closed my eyes, and said to my husband “Oh my God, I can’t wait to do that again!”
A few months later I mentioned to my husband the idea of surrogacy and I told him about what I’d learned from that online infertility group – that there were nice, normal, healthy women who were surrogates for couples in need. I asked him what he thought about me being a surrogate mother.
“I think you’re crazy,” he said. Really, what else was he supposed to say? This was the summer of 1997.
We had our son in January of 1999 and it was another easy pregnancy and delivery (about 3 hours of contractions and no pushing – I was holding him in so he wouldn’t be born in the hospital elevator). By this time I knew I was meant to be a surrogate mother, so I brought it up to my husband once again.
“Let’s talk about it once our family is complete,” he said.
Five months after my son was born, we conceived our daughter. After another glorious pregnancy, I easily delivered her at home with a midwife, surrounded by family (after my son’s precipitous delivery, we all thought a homebirth was the way to go).
Our family felt utterly complete. I’d had three children in three years and each was an easy, healthy pregnancy and delivery and I’d recovered from each of them quickly.
My husband and I agreed that our family was the perfect size for us, but he also knew how much I wanted to continue to be pregnant and deliver babies. So he agreed that being a surrogate mother was something I should pursue.
Once I finished nursing my youngest child, I interviewed with a local surrogacy agency and was accepted into their program. After screening, I was quickly matched and we were pregnant with twins not long after.
I think what has made surrogacy such a rewarding experience for me is that not only do I get to enjoy pregnancy and childbirth without expanding my family, but I also get to bring joy to couples who often have walked a very painful road.
And it’s a road familiar to me, which makes it extra rewarding. My husband and I were lucky that once I began ovulating, I had no trouble getting pregnant. But during that year and a half when I wasn’t and the future of our family felt very uncertain, it was incredibly stressful and at times, emotionally painful.
Having a gift for healthy pregnancies and deliveries was something I felt compelled to share with others, others who did not have such easy resolutions to their infertility. Each of the couples I’ve carried for has had their own unique set of medical circumstances and I was able to make their dreams come true.
If you have the ability to make someone’s dreams come true, how could you not?
That’s not a gift I ever took very lightly, and it’s ultimately why I chose to become a surrogate mother.