Surrogacy part 9…

For some reason it feels like it was ages ago since we were in London when we went to stay with Ali & Andrew. Our friendship seems to be going from strength to strength and it feels as though we have known each other for years!

We have since spent another fantastic weekend together near Stamford which was a picture postcard town! We stayed in an Air BnB together and to say it was only the 3rd time of meeting all 3 girls were really comfortable together. I realised that I don’t have my guard up at all around them and feel I can just be me which is such a lovely feeling. There’s no trying to impress or be on my best behaviour…what they see is what they get.

I love the fact that we can chat about anything and everything and not just surrogacy (even though obviously that is a big part of our relationship!). I’d say we know quite a lot about each other and as I have said before, in these situations you talk about things you would never discuss with new friends or acquaintances.

As Ali, Andrew & myself know that we will be forming a team even though we have to wait until the end of the 3-month GTK period to make it official we have been discussing the nitty gritty of stuff. As this is their first journey doing it the traditional way, they had a lot more questions and unknowns and I found it hilarious when they said they didn’t know where everything was and needed a bit of a biology lesson!!

I’ve always said from the start of my surrogacy journey that I want to write about it with brutal honesty because although it is becoming more prominent, so many people still have no idea about surrogacy.

So, we have discussed the agreement and unsurprisingly there was nothing that we didn’t agree on. I would always respect the IP’s wishes, but they have said very openly that throughout this journey they trust me and would never expect or ask me to do anything related to the pregnancy such as what to eat or when I can take a pregnancy test etc.

Ali & Andrew are trying to get their heads around menstrual cycles and ovulation and how it all works, and we’ve pencilled in the days around when I should be ovulating for when we want to start trying. I had to explain that unfortunately our bodies don’t always work like clockwork so there is an element of needing to be flexible. I am normally fairly regular with my cycles but since starting to take Pregnacare conception vitamins it has affected my first cycle but I remember it doing the same when I was trying for Florrie & Bea so I am hoping they will regulate themselves after this month.

When it comes to working out when you ovulate it’s a bit of a guessing game to be honest. I’ve always tracked my cycles which tells you when you should be ovulating, and I tend to feel when I am too, so I’ve not paid more attention to it than that. However, last month I decided to take an ovulation test when my tracker said I should be ovulating, and it looked as if I had already peaked so this month I am testing from a week after my period to try and work out exactly when I do ovulate. This isn’t as easy as it sounds as the sticks provide two lines and basically when the second line is at the darkest this is when you should be ovulating. I have also got the clear blue ovulation tests but there have been mixed reviews about their accuracy so we will have to see. Fortunately, with conceiving it is more important to try in the few days before ovulation than the day you ovulate when trying yourself as you do have a limited window.

We know that the first month we try will be a bit of trial and error for both myself and Ali, but we’re pretty laid back about it (I say that now!!). I know I’ll be a little nervous as I want to get it right and obviously, I want to become pregnant for them, but I am also getting excited now!

There’s absolutely no pressure from Ali & Andrew when it comes to conceiving, the pressure is more from myself particularly as I fell pregnant 1st time with both my girls, but I know this is different as everything was being monitored by the clinic when I conceived my girls. So, we shall see!!

One thing that took me by surprise was that Florrie asked me how babies are made. She already knew that her and Bea were made with the help of a clinic, but I couldn’t say the same this time as it’s not the truth and I believe it is important to be honest with your children so that they know they can talk to you about anything and trust you.

I did have to think about what I was going to say but after talking about it with Paige I realised that it’s only adults that feel uncomfortable having these discussions. We happily teach our children from a young age about body parts but when it comes to genitalia, we can avoid the subject or give pet names for these parts which doesn’t set children up well for the future, particularly when they do reach an age where they understand about sex. So, in the end I told her that Mummy has eggs inside her and Ali has sperm (which are a bit like seeds) and when they mix together, they make a baby. For now, there were no more questions but if they do come up then I will answer them as best I can.

Florrie & Bea both know that I will be trying to make a baby for Ali & Andrew and that once Mummy has made the baby that it will be going to live with them, and they are fine with that (as long as they get cuddles with the baby!). Ali & Andrew have said how important it is to them for me to be a part of their baby’s life and that I will be an honorary Auntie to baby and Honor and that is very touching.

In the short time we have known each other I feel I have gained 2 incredible friends; an adorable ‘niece’ and my girls have gained 2 fab ‘Uncles’ and 1 ‘cousin’ (so far!!).  

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!!

Surrogacy…part 5

This was never going to be post that I imagined I would ever be writing nor one that I particularly want to write but I went into this journey wanting to share my experiences with people from the very beginning.

I am still processing what has happened since my last post and in all honesty, it has shaken me and made me question a lot of things.

What started as an incredibly positive and exciting journey very quickly and unexpectedly took a very different direction.

The intended parents showed a different side to themselves which left me and everyone who knew about this journey in complete shock. I was left with no alternative but to end the journey with immediate effect which was not an easy decision for me. During the time leading up to this decision I was left in tears, shaken and unsure of what to do but fortunately I had the support I needed to get me through.

I could go into details about what went on, but I am not the kind of person to sit here and slate people (even if some may think I have every right to) and even when I ended things with the IP’s I still had a very heavy heart and ended it in the nicest way possible. This led me to be even more shaken and shocked when despite this, the IPs took their disgruntlement to Facebook after blocking me! Who does that? Especially as I know I did nothing wrong other than stand my ground when they wanted me to do things that aren’t ethical, would lead to being kicked out of SurrogacyUK and could seriously jeopardise the Parental Order.

Unfortunately, my ex-IP’s do not give surrogacy a good name but to be perfectly honest I highly doubt that they will find a future surrogate based on their true feelings and opinions about surrogates.

I am hurt by what has happened and for a moment I did want to spit the dummy out and say that I was no longer going to consider being a surrogate but after talking things through I have decided to carry on this journey.

I know in my heart of hearts how I felt when I knew how much I wanted a child of my own and the pain I felt at the thought of it not being possible and I imagine that is how most IP’s feel. I also know that most IP’s value the role that surrogates play in their journey and certainly do not think of them as a machine.

So, whilst I still feel bruised, scared, and worried about being able to let my guard down with future IP’s I know that the right IP’s will be out there.

Moving forward I will be staying with SurrogacyUK and will only select IP’s who are also members. I know that I will have Paige by my side to help sift through possible IP’s and throughout any future get to know periods before starting to try and conceive a baby.

I have always believed in fate, and I am grateful that they showed their true colours when they did as I dread to think what would have happened if I had already been pregnant when this happened. It would have broken my heart to have been in a position where I would have had to seriously consider terminating a healthy foetus because of the actions of the IP’s.

I am also grateful to have met Paige who I wouldn’t have met if it hadn’t been for my ex-IP’s, she has certainly been the silver lining of this whole experience!

I’m hoping the excitement I felt at the prospect of being a surrogate returns, but in the meantime I know I can focus on me, the house move and my course.

Surrogacy…part 2

It feels ages ago since I met the boys for the first time and that so much has happened since.

If you haven’t gathered from my last post, I have officially offered to be a surrogate for G & O, and we are in the process of embarking on our surrogacy journey together!! I am incredibly excited but as I sit here writing this it also feels a little surreal!

After we met, I wondered what the boys made of me and how they felt about everything particularly as O is more reserved (but lovely). It made me smile when they said that on their car journey home O spoke of me going over to Manchester to go baby shopping with them and how he wants to make sure the guest room is ready in case I want to visit.

In our initial conversations we spoke about our thoughts on surrogacy and how we all felt about the process. Admittedly it felt a little awkward because as I’ve said before these are pretty personal conversations to be having and it is a big thing.

For all we knew, we could have been on completely different pages when it came to surrogacy and that would have no doubt ended our journey before it began. I’ve felt from the beginning that I am very open minded and laid back about the process in terms of how it works and don’t have any real deal breakers. Obviously, I would only offer to be a surrogate for people I feel are decent and who I believe will respect me in this journey.

G & O had previously had their own discussions about surrogacy before they met me and had contemplated creating an embryo and then finding a surrogate but that has its own pros and cons. Then they met me and during our conversations I said that I don’t mind whether I did host or straight surrogacy and so we decided to go with straight surrogacy (meaning the baby will be created using my egg).

As I have said before, I wanted to be able to donate my eggs when I went through fertility treatment so the idea of creating a baby that is genetically linked to me doesn’t phase me.

Of course, there will be an element of curiosity about what the baby looks like, and I am sure I would feel some sort of a bond having carried a baby for 9 months but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

We talked about how the boys see the relationship with the surrogate (me) and they were very open and honest and said that they always hoped that there would be a relationship there from day 1 which would continue long after the baby is born. They said that they would want me to be an honouree auntie which I was very touched by and of course I would love it if that were to happen.

I went into this with open eyes and never expected to form a close relationship with the IP’s and of course part of me is a little cautious in case it doesn’t turn out like that. Equally, this is an intense and deeply personal journey whereby you are going to spend a lot of time together and get to know each other incredibly well so I can’t imagine why you would want to forgo that friendship after the baby has been born.

Having decided that we were going down the straight surrogacy route I then asked them if they wanted to use a clinic for this or the more natural method. Again, there are pros and cons to both options. I had IUI at a fertility clinic which is basically artificial insemination but you are pumped with hormones, regularly scanned and have blood tests to give you the best chance of success so in a way I feel some of the responsibility is taken out of your hands this way but having said that I know millions of women get pregnant without the help of a clinic and obviously you don’t have to pay thousands of pounds in the process.

So, we have decided to try it the more natural way. Obviously, I know what that entails but now that it is all real my head is spinning with what we will need and how it will work. We did have a giggle about the nitty gritty of it all!

I just hope that it works and that it doesn’t take months of trying, but I know that it might. So, when we start trying the boys will drive over from Manchester a couple of times a month around the time of ovulation for us to attempt ‘the deed’ as I call it. Now just to be straight this will not involve any level of intimacy, it will be G doing his thing and then me doing my thing. I imagine the first time we will both be nervous as it is unconventional but all we can do is our best.

When G & O went to a SurrogacyUK gathering, despite not walking away with a potential surrogate they did meet someone who they got on really well with and who they chatted to a lot about surrogacy. So, once they found me and we decided to go on this journey together the boys had a lot of unanswered questions (as did I) and so they turned to her for help and advice. I suddenly got a message from G with her contact details and although I wanted to chat to someone else who was embarking on their first surrogacy journey, I was also nervous about getting in touch, after all I didn’t know anything about her nor what the boys had told her about me.

However, she was incredibly helpful, supportive, and lovely and she put me at ease straight away. Since then, we’ve been chatting a lot and I feel incredibly lucky to have met someone who is starting their journey at a similar time to me but more than that, how incredibly well we get on and as we’ve said to one another, how meeting each other has been one of the best things to have come out of our journeys so far! She is amazing!

This journey means a lot to both boys and so I intend to do everything I can to give myself the best chance of becoming pregnant.

I have started taking pre-conception supplements, stopped drinking alcohol (not that I drank that much), moved onto decaf tea and coffee and have been trying to eat more healthily.

The countdown is on until our first attempt….2 months to go!!