Surrogacy part 13…

It has been a few weeks since I had a miscarriage now and partly it feels surreal, yet every known again I have had a moment of feeling emotional and sad. I didn’t expect it to affect me so much and I thought I’d be right as rain after a few days.

Fortunately, I am now feeling more like myself…. this has without a doubt been helped by the love and support of the people around me.

As a team, if anything we all feel even stronger than before, and Ali & Andrew have been amazing. I went into surrogacy wanting to help create a family and despite the miscarriage this hasn’t changed.

So, we have discussed the next steps and unsurprisingly the boys have pretty much left the decision making down to me. I knew that whenever we decided to try again that we could find it harder next time around and so I thought that it didn’t necessarily matter when we tried again.

The hardest part is that after a miscarriage it can take a while for you body to get back on track and that your cycles can be affected. Me and Ali are similar in the fact that we like to be organised and so this has thrown us both off as we aren’t able to predict when I will have my period or when I will ovulate and so it’s turned into a bit of a waiting game!

Part of me is anxious about the possibility of having another miscarriage even though there is no reason to believe it would happen again and part of me doesn’t want to let Ali & Andrew down as I know how much this means to them.  

In the meantime, we had the chance to spend some quality time together (just the adults) at the SurrogacyUK annual conference. It was lovely to see them as always as we had a great time. I had never been to the conference before and being more of a wall flower I was a little unsure about how I would find it. The boys were always going to arrive after me and so I had to put my big girl pants on and walk into the conference hotel on my own and navigate my way around until they got there. The main room was full to briming for the opening talk and that’s when I found out 450 people were there!

SurrogacyUK promotes friendship first and it really does feel like that. Everyone involved is incredibly friendly and supportive and you never feel as though you are alone on your journey. Throughout the day there were various workshops including those aimed at intended parents and surrogates. I was expecting to see a lot more surrogates there (there must have only been around 40 of us) but it was interesting to hear about their experiences. I still find it hard to believe that people don’t take the time to share their deal breakers or have the serious talks with each other until quite far down the line and this ends a lot of teams. There have even been occasions where surrogates haven’t felt able to have a say in how they give birth even though SurrogacyUK would always promote that those decisions should be down to the surrogate. I feel lucky knowing that as a team we have discussed everything, and that Ali & Andrew trust me.

One thing that I found interesting was when they discussed children’s involvement in surrogacy journeys and how to make them feel included. I definitely feel as though my girls knowing that I am hoping to help create a baby for Ali & Andrew and how that works is the right thing. However, none of us had really considered our children’s role throughout the pregnancy and so now we have thought of ways for them to feel involved such as attending scans if possible, recording scans/baby’s heartbeat and I always thought it would be nice for my girls to be aware of the stages of the pregnancy even just down to telling them how big the baby is each week and any milestones.

The conference was quite emotional as it touched on loss, but it was also emotional when other teams shared their journeys with everybody. It is so heart-warming to hear such positive journeys and the incredible friendships that have come out of this and that continue years after the surrogate baby has been born. I went into this thinking that I would help to create a baby and that would be it…never did I imagine that I could end up making some amazing friends and extending our family.

Who knows how our lives will have changed by next years conference??   

Surrogacy…part 4

Last weekend I went across to Manchester to spend some quality time with the boys and I had such a lovely time. I think I was a little apprehensive about going, partly because I knew we would be going through the surrogacy agreement and I would be telling them how much my expenses would be and partly because somewhere at the back of my head there was a little niggle of doubt, that the boys would change their minds or once I opened up to them about my past that they would get cold feet.

However, the boys made me feel very comfortable and whilst chatting over a cup of tea they revealed that they had booked an escape room for us that evening. I have never been to an escape room before and didn’t know what to expect but I was definitely up for trying something new.

We decided to get the official stuff over with before we headed out and so we all rather officially sat around the table with some nibbles and worked our way through the 12-page agreement! It certainly covers everything you could think of and more…from where insemination will take place, to discussing wills, life insurance, me agreeing to abstain from sexual intercourse in the months of trying to conceive (the things we have to put ourselves through!!), to expenses, what happens if there are complications during pregnancy, birth arrangements including the first feed and the kind of relationship we all would like throughout this journey and afterwards.

I was very touched that the boys asked if I would be happy to consider giving baby its first feed and of course I said I am more than happy to if I can, and the boys also said that they would like to see me every 4-6 weeks during pregnancy and once the baby is born. Nothing came up throughout the agreement that posed a problem or raised any issues for any of us and it all went really smoothly.

The main thing that is on my mind is becoming pregnant in terms of will I get pregnant? G has had his sperm analysed and his results showed that everything was in full working order so if it doesn’t work, I feel it will be my fault. I’m also thinking about the deed itself in terms of the practicalities when it comes to my girls and managing to do it ok whilst being relaxed!!! But I know that all I can do is my best.

Once we had all signed the agreement the prosecco was popped open and despite going tee total the boys wanted me to have a glass (or two!) to celebrate this special moment together. Of course, being a lightweight I ended up feeling rather tipsy!! I didn’t have high expectations of being able to get out of an escape room in my tipsy state!

When we got there, we were told what would happen and what we needed to do and then the three of us were locked in a room and given 1 hour to escape! I enjoyed every minute of it and felt we all worked well as a team…there were no arguments or desperation to escape! I was in very safe hands and can’t take much credit for us escaping as both boys are mathematicians, which no doubt helped when it came to solving the logic problems! In the end we managed to escape with 10 minutes to spare and whilst me and G got straight out, O stayed behind to tidy up!!!

Then we went to the Corn Exchange for something to eat and they took me to a really nice Vietnamese restaurant where I had another first…the meal was served with chopsticks and because the boys could use them, I felt the need to try and use them too! I had never used them before but stubborn me powered (slowly) through my noodles…at least its good for the diet, eating slowly!!!

We ended up rolling in way after my bedtime and I slept like a baby and even enjoyed a lie in (and yes, 8am is a lie in for me!!).

Throughout our weekend together we talked about anything and everything and I even opened up to them about my past. I enjoyed probing the boys about their ‘gaydar’ especially when they both claimed to have a fairly good ‘gaydar’, yet both admitted they wouldn’t have known I was gay.

We certainly had a giggle and I felt very relaxed around them.

We have arranged to meet up with my girls and their baby (their dog) before the first attempt in November. G is already counting down the weeks until the first try!

I know I have said it before, but I really do feel so lucky to have met them and cannot think of a nicer couple to be going on this journey with. If there were any niggles before last weekend, there certainly aren’t any now. As far as I am concerned, I have made friends for life!  

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!!

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!