Here goes…

A while ago I wrote about how I have a few exciting things in the pipeline and how I had made a rather big decision, but I wasn’t going to share it yet…

Well, I have now decided that the time is right, and I want to share this potentially incredibly exciting, nerve-wracking, and unique experience…

I can hear you saying, ‘just tell us what it is!’

I’m getting there…

Ever since looking into fertility treatment before having my daughters, I knew that I wanted to help others who couldn’t naturally have a baby of their own, without a little help. I knew that if I had to have IVF that I would have happily donated my eggs for those who may need them. However, because I only needed IUI to conceive, the clinic wouldn’t take any of my eggs.

I then considered the possibility of fostering; however, you need to have a spare bedroom and that isn’t something that I have, and I am aware that whilst fostering can be very rewarding, that it can be rather stressful too and that’s after you’ve been scrutinised with a fine toothcomb by the agencies.

So…in my quest to want to help those who cannot have children of their own, I have decided to (hopefully) become a surrogate!

I thought about waiting until I was pregnant before writing about it but then I thought that surrogacy seems to be something that isn’t really known about, let alone talked about and this made me want to share my experience even more.

My journey began by googling surrogacy and seeing what was out there. I found a few agencies and started reading the information on their websites.

I was shocked to discover that surrogacy is illegal in a lot of countries and whilst it is legal in the UK it is illegal for surrogates to be paid and not surprisingly the UK legal system with regards to surrogacy is like spaghetti junction – messy and confusing to say the least!

Despite this information, it didn’t put me off and so I decided to contact a couple of the agencies to find out a bit more about the process.

As I didn’t even know if an agency would consider me as a surrogate, I decided to fill in an application form and send it off. After all, I’m nearly 35! However, the main criteria for being a surrogate are that you have already had children, be at least 21 years old, be classed as healthy and have a healthy BMI. I tick all those boxes, so that was the first hurdle passed.

The application form was fairly straight-forward although it was quite long and it did ask deep questions that I hadn’t even thought about by this point, including, what type of surrogate do you want to be? There is a choice of host/gestational surrogacy and straight/traditional surrogacy.

Host surrogacy takes embryos made by an intended parent or parents and transfers them via IVF into the surrogate. The surrogate is not genetically connected to the child conceived.  The embryos are either fully made up of both intended parents genetics or made up of one intended parents genetics plus either donor eggs OR donor sperm.

Whilst straight surrogacy uses the surrogates’ own eggs to conceive. This can take place at home using artificial insemination, using an insemination kit or via a clinic using IUI or IVF with the surrogate acting a known egg donor.

I was asked to write about the kind of individual or couple that I would like to help, which to begin with I had thought I would want to help anyone, however, on reflection, I know that in my heart I would prefer to help an LGBTQ+ individual or couple.

It also asked what kind of relationship you hope to have with the individual or couple that you are matched with, which I struggled to answer as at this point as I didn’t know what the other party may be looking for. When I filled in the form, I thought that most people wouldn’t want a relationship with the surrogate and so I put that I didn’t mind what kind of relationship I have with them. Having said that, I knew that it would be lovely to have a relationship with the parent/parents.

Looking back through the application, I imagine it does put some people off before you even start, although I do understand why they ask the questions that they do.

Quite a tricky question to answer was what kind of relationship you hope to have with the child once it is born. At this point I thought that most intended parents wouldn’t want you to see the child again, let alone have a relationship with them and so I accepted this possibility.

The application wanted to know how you would feel if the baby was found to have something wrong with it and if you would be happy to carry on with the pregnancy or how you would feel if the intended parent or parents wanted you to terminate. Very hard questions to answer but at the end of the day the baby wouldn’t be mine and so I put that I would follow the wishes of the intended parent or parents.

The list goes on! Reading it again is enough to make anyone’s mind boggle!

I have only shared my journey so far with very few people, partly because its very early days and partly because I don’t want to be judged. I am quite surprised and taken aback by some people’s thoughts about surrogacy. At the end of the day, it is an individual’s choice to be a surrogate and I personally think it is an amazing thing to do and I know that I am eternally grateful to the donor who helped create my beautiful daughters.

There is so much to think about and consider and there is definitely more to come about this journey!

Pride month

When I think of pride, I think of Pride festivals…. I remember going to the very first Pride in Hull which was held 20 years ago. I cannot believe I was only 14! We marched through the streets of Hull, and I remember feeling liberated and happy to be part of this occasion. However, it was tainted for me by a member of the public who decided to hurl abuse at us. Maybe this is why I didn’t return to Hull Pride again until 2 years ago when I went with my best friend and our girls. I love the fact that she was happy to come with me and did not care what people thought. Due to Covid restrictions it wasn’t held last year and has sadly been cancelled again this year, but fingers crossed it will return next year.

I clearly wasn’t put off Pride festivals as I decided to be a rebel and went to London Pride aged 16 on my own!!! I didn’t know anyone who was going or in fact anyone who lived in London but that didn’t put me off. I think I would be more anxious now but then I just went to enjoy the atmosphere, be surrounded by like-minded people and to have a good time.

I know that times have changed (well…mostly) and that being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is more widely accepted but I still find it hard. Being a lesbian is a part of me, but it does not define who I am.

I first knew I was a lesbian when I was 14 years old but going back 20 years the internet wasn’t how it is today so I couldn’t google, ‘am I a lesbian?’ or find support easily. Being home educated and not seeing many people my own age didn’t help either. I remember being told as a teenager that being a lesbian was no doubt a phase. I struggled not having people to mix with or talk to about it and ended up turning to the internet to try and find people.

It is funny what seems important to us as teenagers/young adults and for as long as I can remember I knew that I wanted children. At that time, I also dreamed of a white wedding and being the blushing bride. At a time where it was difficult to meet people and knowing that I wanted to ‘fit’ in caused me internal conflict which led to some dark times. I spent a few years trying to convince myself that I was straight, telling myself it would be ok as I would ‘fit’ in and could be the blushing bride and have children.

And I ended up meeting someone who I was in a relationship with for quite awhile during that time and he was lovely, the perfect gentleman. I knew I loved him but more like a brother or a best friend than anything else. This made it easier in a way as I genuinely enjoyed his company and my family adored him, but it was also hard, as despite my best efforts I could not live a lie and so I had to end the relationship. By the age of 21 I could not hide the fact I was a lesbian any longer despite knowing at the time that this meant forgoing the possibility of being the blushing bride and not knowing if I would be able to have children.

I am pleased that I had the strength to follow my heart despite it not being the easiest decision.

For some reason I still find it hard to be open about my sexuality which in a way frustrates me as I know in the past it has become more of an issue because I have tried to hide it. I know this is because I am afraid of judgement. Although I know that I would not want to be friends with people who are homophobic I also like to be liked.

When I was married, I used to struggle when people asked me what my husband was called or what he did and so I used to talk about them as ‘they’ to try and avoid the fact that I actually had a wife. Starting a new life, after leaving my abusive relationship, has given me opportunities to change how I present myself and so I am trying to be more open and honest with people. So when people assume that because I have children I must have been with a man or that I only came out after having children, I correct them.

I sometimes wonder if people would make the same assumptions if I looked like a lesbian – not that I am saying there is a look, but I know some people assume that all lesbians are butch and so because I am feminine people may assume that I am not a lesbian.

Now that life is returning to some sort of normality I would like to try and meet new people but when it comes to joining events, I get nervous and despite wanting to go I struggle to put myself out there, after all, who knows what opportunities there may be or who I may meet. I know this is something that I need to get over and I would like to learn to be proud of who I am.

I truly hope that people are becoming more accepting, open minded and less judgemental. I remember someone saying that the worst thing that could happen to their child is if they were gay, I wholeheartedly disagree. As a parent, I hope that my daughters will be happy in their own skin, and I will love them regardless of their sexuality.

After all,….