Surrogacy part 8…

As with the early stages of dating the GTK (get to know) period has so far consisted of daily messages, regular conversations and the excitement and anticipation of meeting up. My girls were excited to be going to see Ali, Andrew & their daughter Honor as they enjoyed spending time with them when we first met. I was excited too however I also had butterflies as this was the first time, I was seeing them after I had offered them the GTK.

The girls very quickly made themselves at home after we arrived at their house, and it didn’t take long before we were all sat chatting like old friends whilst I was being plied with bubbly!! Ali & Andrew went to a lot of effort to make us all feel welcome and had gone out their way to make sure they had dairy free supplies for me.

The following morning, I even had a cup of tea brought up to bed for me…. talk about how to melt me! I can’t remember the last time someone brought me a cup of tea in bed! If I was dating someone who did this, I would certainly be thinking that they were a keeper!!

We shared an incredible and memorable day at Winter Wonderland….it really did feel like I was spending the day with old friends. It was so easy, laid back and fun. The girls had never been on a train let alone the tube, but Ali & Andrew made it so easy, and I was touched by how much they involved themselves with my girls without batting an eyelid. I certainly appreciated their help navigating our way through the busy tube stations especially as its not something that I particularly enjoy.

Ali & Andrew had offered to take the girls ice skating whilst we were there, but I wasn’t sure how everyone would get on as I had to stay in the viewing area with Honor, but they all appeared to have a whale of a time! The girls were all too happy to let them guide them around the ice rink and my eldest daughter would have happily allowed them to do this for hours! It was definitely heart-warming to watch.

Now for whatever reason, Andrew (who must be a softy!) offered to try and win both my girls the most enormous cuddly toys I have ever seen! I couldn’t watch as I thought it can’t be that easy otherwise, they’d never make money on the game, and he was determined to win twice otherwise one girl wouldn’t be a happy bunny. Well, surprisingly he won…twice! I’m not sure he had thought this through though as these gigantic toys now needing carrying around London and on the tube!! I had nothing to do with this as it was his idea!!! Having said that he wasn’t having any of it when I suggested that the cuddly toys stay at their house and so I am so incredibly grateful (can you sense the sarcasm?!) that I now have them in my house!!

After an incredibly busy but wonderful day I was plied with even more bubbly as we realised, we hadn’t captured the moment (any excuse!) and we spent the evening chatting away, including our thoughts about the GTK and what the future may hold. It was lovely to know that we are all on the same page, but I still don’t think it’s sunk in that everything seems to be going so well. It’s almost as if I am expecting something to go wrong but I hope not.

The weekend consisted of lots of giggles, fun, excitement, numerous selfies, and happy memories. I didn’t feel as though I had to put on an act, and I was completely relaxed and felt like I was myself.  

Before we got home, Ali & Andrew in their excitement had announced our GTK to the surrogacy community and their post was lovely to read (even if they had put photos with me on!!) and it made me feel warm inside.

Especially in recent times I think its hard for people to find other like-minded people so if Ali & Andrew are as lovely as they seem to be then I can see us really being good friends. We are all excited about what the future holds!!

Surrogacy…part 7

My last surrogacy post left things hanging! I was umming and arring about what to do because I wasn’t sure if I could trust my instincts after last time, but I know you can’t live in the past. I read through quite a few IP profiles and knew that if I offered a GTK (get to know) that it would more than likely be to a gay couple. I get that writing a profile for potential surrogates to read must be hard as they are meant to be a snapshot but what stood out for me was the fact that hardly any mentioned anything to do with a surrogate and mainly spoke about themselves.

I already had an inkling that Ali & Andrew were different, especially having spent some time with them so I was intrigued to see what their profile would say. Admittedly I already liked them, but their profile was still important to me when it came to helping to make my decision. Well…unsurprisingly their profile stood out from the rest by a long shot! There was no comparison and to be perfectly honest it warmed me to them even more.

I had chatted to Paige about Ali & Andrew as I wanted another opinion especially given my previous experience. I found myself questioning if they only wanted friendship particularly as they were in the early stages of looking for a second surrogate and the fact that they live in London, but I realised that these things weren’t for me to decide or make assumptions about and Paige hinted that they liked me.

The thing with offering a GTK is that you wouldn’t generally know what an IP’s decision would be as you’re not meant to discuss it with them before going through SUK. So, I was a little nervous when I sent the email to SUK offering Ali & Andrew a GTK as I didn’t know what their answer would be. I also didn’t know how long it would take for my email to be read and actioned, so I was left in a little bit of limbo.

This was quite hard as I was still messaging and chatting to Ali & Andrew every day and I couldn’t say anything, and I didn’t know if they knew about my email. It got to the next weekend, and I still hadn’t heard anything and the not knowing was driving me doolally! I eventually contacted another member of SUK who informed me that the lady I had emailed was off as she’d just given birth! I had no idea! I was a little frustrated as I hoped that someone else would be able to step in and help whilst she was off, but I don’t like to bother people, so Paige stepped in and worked her magic!

Within less than an hour another member of SUK contacted me, checked that our profiles matched (in terms of the type of surrogacy we were both looking for i.e., straight or host and our expenses) and confirmed that she was going to message Ali & Andrew asking them for a call.

Well, the butterflies kicked in at this point and within minutes I got an email saying it was a YES!

I was over the moon and squealed with delight…apparently, they screamed when Sarah spoke to them offering a GTK!

I decided to give them a call and they both answered screaming with happiness!! I had to tell them that I had sent off the email offering them a GTK 2 weeks ago and how awkward I had found it whilst I had been waiting, especially when there had been a hint that they weren’t looking for other surrogates right now. I had no doubt in my mind that they would have been snapped up sooner rather than later and so I am very happy that we are now on a GTK.

So, for the next 3 months we will get to know each other even more and spend some time together before we decide if we want to form a team with the idea of me trying to help create a baby for them.

I feel very relaxed around them and have been completely open and honest from the start. They seem very genuine, open, and honest people and they clearly understand the process of surrogacy having gone through it once before. There haven’t been any awkward moments, nor have I had any niggles. It’s definitely like dating…wondering if they like you, revealing things about yourself that you wouldn’t necessarily talk about with new friends etc.

Obviously, I don’t know what the next 3 months will entail and we’ve yet to talk about the nitty gritty of what our journey may look like if we were to form a team, but I hope that whatever happens that we all enjoy this time getting to know each other.

They have invited us down to spend the weekend with them and we are all looking forward to seeing them again.

I can’t wait to enjoy some Christmas festivities with them all…. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Surrogacy…part 6

It’s been a while since I have posted about surrogacy for a variety of reasons. Partly because my experience with the previous IP’s left a bitter taste in my mouth and I wasn’t sure if or when I would feel ready to contemplate continuing with the idea of being a surrogate and partly because life has been rather hectic lately.

I kind of switched off after what happened with Greig and Owen and went into self-protection mode and found myself no longer as interested or excited as before and if it hadn’t been for Paige who is also a surrogate with SurrogacyUK I would probably have shut the door on the whole idea.

However, I decided to put things on a back burner but not to rule surrogacy out based on one bad experience. I’ve not been actively looking or participating in online socials as I have been busy moving and recovering (in a fashion) from my visit to the dentist.

I decided to continue with the process of joining SurrogacyUK and I can report that I am now a fully active member.

I had to have a video chat with a member of SUK before joining who was lovely and I talked about my previous experience and my concerns, and she completely put me at ease and reminded me of why I wanted to be a surrogate in the first place.

I then was asked to write a profile about myself including why I wanted to be a surrogate and dealbreakers. To begin with I kept this fairly short and sweet as I knew that after any potential IP/IP’s read this that there is a get to know you period of at least 3 months but after speaking to Jemma (who appeared on the BBC Surrogate documentary) who is my mentor I decided to add much more. She said that a lot of teams are ending before they have even started their journey due to people not having discussions about things such as dealbreakers and this made me realise how important my profile is.

The profile directs you to think about dealbreakers relating to pregnancy, but I decided to expand on this and think about what would stop me from wanting to have a relationship with an IP/IP’s and so included things such as if they were into fox hunting or were homophobic or god forbid were Conservatives!!!

I also wrote about what was important for me including my girls. Even if I had a smooth and straightforward pregnancy I will no doubt impact on them and so it is important to me that they gain something out of the experience such as making memories, fun experiences, or the creation of new friendships etc.

When I go into my bubble (usually to protect myself) I switch off to some extent and so I can’t really remember when I first started talking to Ali and Andrew who are IP’s with SUK. I remember that Andrew messaged me through one of the Facebook groups. I also remember that I was feeling detached at the time and so very quickly I told him what went wrong with my previous IP’s and that I wasn’t sure where this has left me.

Instead of feeling like I had to ‘impress’ potential IP’s I kind of went the opposite way and as I wasn’t thinking about matching with any IP’s I just chatted to him and Ali without worrying what they might think.

Ali and Andrew have already had a daughter with a surrogate through SUK and are on a sibling journey. When I first contemplated surrogacy, I didn’t think that I would ideally contemplate being a surrogate for IP/IP’s who already had a child and distance was fairly important too. However, after my first experience I realised what was most important was the connection and relationship.

We have been chatting regularly for a while now and they even came up last weekend.

I am certainly not in a rush to become a team with any IP’s, and I know that it is important to keep your options open, but I realised as I read through the IP profiles that none stood out for me.

It takes a lot of energy to get to know IP’s and I do compare it to dating rather than making friends as it is on a different level, its more intense and personal. I realised that I don’t have the energy to spend months trying to get to know IP’s for the sake of it and that although I am cautious that it is still worth trusting our instinct.

So now the ball is in my court as to which IP/IP’s I offer a GTK (Get To Know), where we spend at least 3 months getting to know each other with the intention (if all goes well) of forming a team. SUK having been very supportive and there is absolutely no pressure to offer a GTK to anyone unless I want to.

If and when I decide to offer a GTK I have to email SUK to let them know and then they see if the IP/IP’s match in terms of expenses, distance and whether they want a host or straight surrogate. If you do match, then they send your profile over to the IP/IP’s and offer them a GTK whilst you wait to hear if they accept or not.

As it stands, I have an idea of what I am going to do….so watch this space!!

Dating

When I got married, I thought I would be with my wife for the rest of my life and I never imagined that I would be single again. The last time I was single I was 20 years old, more than a decade later I was separated with 2 under 2s and a lot of baggage!

Being in a long-term relationship with a full-on career, going through 2 pregnancies 2 years on the trot (alongside the restrictions of the controlling relationship itself) it was fair to say that fashion, looks and keeping up with beauty trends was not on my radar! The most I ran to on a day-to-day basis was maintaining my eyebrows and underarms…as for anything else that was far too much effort!! Unless it was summer, the only time I shaved my legs was if my hair was that long it was irritating me!!! Becoming a single mum, having to start my life from scratch, having a lot of baggage and now being in my 30’s, aside from not particularly being interested in the idea of dating, I couldn’t imagine that I would appeal to anyone.

Added to that being a lesbian and not really knowing anyone (having moved back to the area where I grew up) it was never going to be easy to meet other single lesbians unless I had a tattoo on my forehead that said single lesbian! I have met previous girlfriends through online dating which has its pros and cons, but I have never really dated a woman I have met any other way.

As much as I was heartbroken to be single, part of me also knew that I had felt single for the past couple of years. I remember my best friend encouraging me to dip my toe into the water even though I didn’t necessarily want a relationship right now. So, after being lovingly pestered I decided to sign up to an online dating site with the hope of meeting people to chat to and being open to new experiences.

It had been a long time since I’d filled in a profile for a dating site, but a glass of wine helped give me the courage to complete it. Some questions don’t take any thought such as height, ethnicity etc but others weren’t as easy…desire to have children? What I’m looking for in a woman? etc. But the hardest one was writing the part about myself. I’ve never felt comfortable talking about myself and it feels like it’s a sales pitch!! Do you admit that you have children and that they live with you? Will that put people off? But if it does put people off does that bother me?

Choosing a photo to put on my profile was another dilemma! I don’t take many selfies nor have many photos of me especially looking like anything other than a mum – meaning knackered, hair a mess, no makeup, ‘mum’ clothes etc! Maybe I was taking it too seriously, but I thought if I’m going to give this a go, I want to do it properly, so I had to be practical and think how far I was willing to potentially travel to meet someone however most people seemed to live in London or that neck of the woods which I felt was too far.

Then I had to sit and think about the age range I was willing to consider without completely limiting my options. Initially I thought I should consider 10 years either side, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about potentially dating someone in their 40’s especially as I want to go on adventures and live my life and had it in my head that older people may not be up for that (probably because my ex had no desire to do anything or go anywhere and they were the same age as me). However, the idea of dating someone in their early 20’s somehow felt wrong! I also thought of myself at that age, just starting out, not being tied down…why on earth would they want to date an older woman who was still married and with children!! In the end I decided to go for up to 5 years younger and 8 years older to begin with but ended up going to 10years + older than me as I decided to try and be open minded.

It’s really hard when looking at profiles as you’re potentially swiping yes or no for someone based on 1 or 2 photos, but I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t admit that although I am very open minded, I do have a preference of more feminine women so couldn’t personally envisage dating a woman for example with a shaved head and who dresses in a very manly way. I appreciate that they could be the loveliest person in the world, but I would be lying if I said I would be physically attracted to them. I acknowledge that chemistry can potentially grow when you get to know someone, but I guess at this point I was just really wanting to see who was out there and trying to be honest with myself. Using dating sites, I also feel you need to be drawn in by something, be it their photo or what they say about themselves.

I felt like a teenager whenever I got an email saying someone had liked my profile and got butterflies when someone messaged me. What do you talk about? How honest are you? Having not dated for so long I had no idea what to expect or if there were different expectations to when I was previously single. Do people message regularly? Do you ever exchange personal emails or mobile numbers? If so, at what point? If they ever want to meet how does that work? When I was in my early 20’s I was sensible but pretty carefree and didn’t necessarily think about or worry about meeting people but now I found myself being more cautious.

So, when someone asked if we could meet (after numerous messages, emails, and conversations) I didn’t know what to do. In the end I decided to go with the part of me that said, go for it, why shouldn’t I go and meet someone? They’d suggested meeting in York which anyone who knows me knows I love it there and I hadn’t been in years. As it got closer to the day I started to panic – what do I wear? (I only had ‘Mum’ clothes), what make up do I put on? How do I do my hair? I think I spent most of the day before preparing myself! Of course, I want someone to like me for who I am, but I wanted to feel good about myself and wanted to make an effort.

It had been years since anyone had given me any compliments (apart from friends/family) and a long time since I’d felt like I looked good.

I was a nervous wreck the day we were to meet even though I was looking forward to it, but I remember getting cold feet and ringing my mum and best friend to make sure they didn’t think I was being silly by meeting someone I’d never met on my own. However, they both encouraged me to go, let my hair down and have a good time! After all, I was meeting them at the railway station in York in the middle of the day and I couldn’t let my head think of worst-case scenarios!

Despite the nerves, I survived the first date I had been on in over 10 years and I did allow myself to let my hair down and enjoy myself. I don’t recall a time in my life where a woman has offered to take me for a meal or who has turned up with a gift on a date. It gave me a glimpse of what life could be like and gave me a much-needed confidence boost.

When researching about dating, a lot came up about dating during lockdown, including ideas of things to do on virtual dates and some of my favourite suggestions include: –

  1. Playing ‘Never Have I Ever’. (I hadn’t heard of this game until I saw it on The Big Bang Theory!)
  2. Looking to the future: coming up with ideas or planning an experience you can share together when this is all over – be it going away for a night, going on holiday, or starting a venture together.
  3. Sex Bucket List. (I’d not heard of such a thing but hey, why not?! Regardless of if you’re in a long-term relationship or a new relationship it would certainly be a way of spicing things up!)