An Interview with a Surrogate: Leslie Mattern
Sometimes the best way to get a true understanding of an experience is to ask someone who’s been through it before. This week, ConceiveAbilities was lucky enough to catch up with gestational carrier and surrogacy blog writer Leslie Mattern and discuss her experience being a surrogate.
Leslie is currently in the middle of her second surrogacy journey. She also works as a 911 dispatcher at night. In her spare time, Leslie maintains my pod, their pea, which is an online journal that details her surrogacy journey. She is married with two children of her own.
Read on to hear Leslie’s insight into the surrogacy journey, in her own words.
Interview with Leslie Mattern
CA: Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
LM: This will be my second journey. I delivered twins in October of 2015. I am married- my husband and I have been married 8 and half years now, but we’ve been together 11 in total. I have two girls of my own. They are five and my oldest just turned 7, right after Christmas.
I work as a 911 dispatcher locally, and I love it, but I work overnights which is a challenge. I don’t know, I have an obsession for helping people. I’m learning a lot of new things because I just got the job, I’ve only been there a year. But it’s definitely been a different challenge being pregnant – my schedule, especially my sleep schedule, is totally bizarre.
I’ve been very lucky in my surrogacy. My first IM (Intended Mother) actually wound up being my husband’s second cousin by accident. So it became this huge family affair, it was really cool and a lot of fun. Everybody knew about everything, everyone was super involved. It was a really great experience.
How did you first hear about surrogacy, and what made you want to become a surrogate?
LM: I had really easy pregnancies with both my own kids, and I love being pregnant. My husband and I had talked about having a lot of children, and then we had our second one. We called her our challenge- she was a very difficult baby and still is sometimes, so we were done with two kids- and we were happy with that. We love it. But I love being pregnant, and so I had heard of surrogacy just in passing, maybe on TV, I don’t know originally where I heard about it. So we talked about it. I started googling it, and I found a couple of agencies, and I found ConceiveAbilities. They have this great video on the homepage talking about surrogacy. It just sounded like a perfect fit, and it was, and still is.
What do you enjoy most about being a surrogate?
LM: Well, I love being pregnant, so that’s definitely a bonus. But I think the best part of it was the end, seeing the parents with their babies. Seeing how happy they were and how excited and how thankful they were- it made it all worth it. I remember being in the room after delivering the twins and my IM just kept saying “thank you” over and over.
What is the most challenging part about being a surrogate?
LM: I think not being in total control is a little bit harder. Like this time I had dietary restrictions which is a little more difficult for me. Knowing I can’t just make a decision, it has to involve the parents, and the case manager, and the doctors. It’s not just something where you’re like “okay, I’ll do this.”
For example, I wanted to fly out to Vegas to surprise my Dad for his birthday. So I had to get permission from the clinic, and my IM and my Case Manager. So it wasn’t just “hey, I’m gonna fly in and surprise you for lunch,” it was this big ordeal. It’s the lack of total control that can be a challenge.
But ConceiveAbilities does a great job of making it really easy. Especially if there are harder questions, they can act as a mediator which is really nice.
So the actual pregnancy itself was smooth sailing? It wasn’t too challenging?
LM: No, it was super easy. I had a subchorionic hematoma (bleeding under the chorion, one of the membranes surrounding the embryo), which I guess is pretty common during IVF procedures. That was a little bit of a hiccup at the beginning. I had some bleeding and so of course we all freaked out, but it wound up being no big deal and it healed by about fifteen weeks, and then the rest of the pregnancy was fine. The babies grew big and were healthy. Totally easy. I want to do twins again!
What has the reaction from your friends and family been like?
LM: It was a little more surprising than I thought. A lot of my friends were supportive. My parents were not. My mom was really concerned something would go wrong. My past IM was diagnosed with cancer right before we did the transfer, so my mom was really concerned if something happened to her, or something happened to the baby, or something happened to me, but I think it was just her being a mom. She was a lot more vocal about it than I expected her to be, so that was kind of hard. But she came around by the end of it, and this time she’s totally on board and super excited. She asks me all these questions all the time.
My dad didn’t really care- he’s just a dad. He was like, “okay whatever you want.” My brother was totally grossed out by it, but he still supports my decisions. Other than that everyone’s super supportive.
How has your decision to become a surrogate changed you?
LM: It’s definitely given me a different perspective, especially as far as infertility problems go. My husband and I, for our first pregnancy, it took us 6 or 8 months to get pregnant and we thought that was horrible. But then we had our first and then had our second 18 months later and we had these two beautiful babies and everything was perfect- they didn’t have any health problems.
Hearing so much about how much other people struggle definitely gives you a different perspective, and so we’re a lot more thankful for what we have now. In general, we’re a lot more willing to help in different situations, not just in this, but in everything. It’s not something that a lot of people talk about. It kinda makes you think- if they’re not talking about this, there’s a lot of other things that people could not be talking about. So if somebody needs help or somebody’s asking for help, I think we’re a lot more willing now, than maybe we were before, no matter what the situation is.
How has ConceiveAbilities helped you through your journey?
LM: They have been amazing. They’ve just made every single transition, step, conversation, doctor’s appointment easier- they’re just there. For whatever you need, any questions you have, they have answers, and if they don’t, they’ll find them. They’re obviously very well versed in this whole process, so they have the experience and knowledge to calm you. Even if there’s complications, they’re there. They’re supportive, they always make sure, not only as a surrogate, but that IPs are taken care of and everyone has the support they need. They’ve just been incredible. Which is why we did it again. It was just- they’re just amazing! I don’t really know how to put it into words. The stuff that they do behind the scenes that makes it easier for us... it’s just amazing how hard they work for us.
What would you want to say to women who are interested in becoming a surrogate?
LM: Do your research. Make sure you have the support that you’ll need. I’ve been very lucky I haven’t had any complications. With both my journeys, the first transfer took, so I haven’t had a lot of the negative side of it that other surrogates go through. But I have a really big support system, so if that were to happen I know I have people to help me, physically, emotionally, any way I need. I think that is the most important thing, support. ConceiveAbilities will be there for anything and everything as well.
It’s a big life decision, it’s a long commitment, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Surrogacy at ConceiveAbilities
Leslie is one of our star surrogates at ConceiveAbilities. We are always looking for bright, enthusiastic, and healthy women who want to help other parents build their family. There is a good chance that you’re the person we’re looking for, so make sure to read our 10 Signs You’d Make a Great Surrogate. If you’re already serious about becoming a surrogate, check out the requirements for the application process. Finally, if you’re on your way to your first journey, read up on Five Things Nobody Told You About Being Pregnant.