In this three part series, we speak with former clients Samantha and Eric, who completed a surrogacy journey last year with Nicole and her husband Kevin. Now the parents of two beautiful children, Samantha and Eric share their experience, while Nicole describes the pleasure of playing such a significant role in helping them build their family. Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2.
When Nicole went in for her 39-week checkup, she assumed she would be in and out quickly. But when the nurse checked her, Nicole recalled, she said, “’honey, you are six centimeters dilated and she’s breech. You’re not going anywhere.’ I remember being stunned.”
From there it was a bit of a whirlwind - calling Samantha and Eric to let them know their baby was coming today, getting their own children situated with family, and an attempt by the doctor to turn the baby. “They said, ‘we’re going to prep you for a c-section just in case.' That was not anywhere on my radar. I’d had natural births with mine and that’s what I expected to do again.”
When turning the baby didn’t work, it was time to go in: “The next thing I knew they were reaching into my stomach and pulling her out. Hearing her cry was a breath of relief. Kevin went over and they let him film the entire thing on his cell phone.”
“Which was great for Sam and Eric,” Kevin said. “They got to watch the first 5 or 10 minutes of her life.”
As the partner, it was an overwhelming day for him too. “The key was just holding it together to be supportive.”
After Parker’s birth, he recalled, “we really got to calm down - and there’s a baby here. It’s not our baby, but I felt a weird responsibility not to leave her alone.” Samantha and Eric arrived quickly, and Kevin said, “That moment we knew they were close, I could feel the excitement pick back up. I had no idea how they were going to react, but what was really cool was when Sam came in, she went to Nicole first. And then they came over and had their moment with the baby.”
“She did, she came in and the first thing she did was hug me,” Nicole confirmed. “It tells a lot about the kind of people they are.”
“One thing Nicole was really looking forward to was to have them in the room,” Kevin said of the birth. “To get that moment when the baby comes out and they get to see her for the first time. When they arrived, they still had that special moment. It still worked out so perfectly.”
“It’s sort of surreal,” Eric said of the difference between Logan’s birth and Parker’s. “There’s this frenetic, frantic, ‘we have to get to the hospital.’ With Parker it was, ‘we have to get to the airport, book a flight. It was frenetic in a totally different way. With Logan, the rush was at the beginning of it. With Parker, you rush, you get there, and it’s all wrapped up in a cute little bow.”
“That moment where you see your baby is a really special moment,” Samantha said. “When we first saw Parker we were a little bit confused. What do we do? Especially after having done the other way before and having that whole experience.”
It didn’t take long to bond. “Parker came out and she was more my kid than anyone. I weirdly, automatically knew what would calm her if she was fussy,” Samantha recalled. Of pregnancy impacting the bond with your child she said, “I think it’s really amazing to experience if you can, but I don’t think you lose anything by not.”
The days following Parker’s birth were truly special for Nicole – not only did she get to spend time with Samantha and Eric, but she got a glimpse of all the new relationships beginning to form.
“We had known each other, but there was just something deeper about it at that point. We had crossed the line and basically started the family that is now,” she explained. “It was nice to have time with them, see them with Parker. Just to watch them with her, it was really good for my soul.”
One of the most powerful moments of the entire journey occurred just before the new parents prepared to take Parker home.
“I was holding her and Sam sat on the edge of my bed,” Nicole recalled. “There were no words exchanged, but the look that was between us…you could just tell there was a bond that was deeper than I was going to have with any other friend.”
Even now, the memory is profoundly emotional for her. “That moment between Sam and I, sitting on my bed, is in my top five moments I’ve ever had in my whole life.”
Once they left, Nicole took some time to reflect. “I remember feeling such a peace about it. She’s in good hands. That baby is going to have the happiest life, and knowing that I was a part of it in more ways than one was really cool.”
Samantha and Eric are equally fond of Nicole. “She is the most incredibly thoughtful person,” Samantha said. “She will remember Parker’s month birthdays when we don’t. We’ll get a text from Nicole that says, “Happy 4 Months, Parker!”
And while the relationship is different than it was during the pregnancy, she said, “We text – not every week, necessarily, but when something is going on, if we have cute pictures.”
During the process they had talked about spending time together in the future, and this past summer they made it a reality when Nicole, Kevin and their boys traveled to New York to visit. For Samantha and Eric, it was a no-brainer: “We just happen to really like her, and her family too.”
As for what the future holds, there is no doubt that Nicole will always be part of their lives. “I would like to make it a very important part of their story. Always bring up Nicole, have a picture of her, not make this at all a secret.”
It was important to them that their children’s start, Parker’s in particular, is always part of their history. “I feel very strongly that, from the get go, we will always talk about it. We’ll never make a big deal about it. We will never make this some weird secret. It’s not,” Samantha explained.
“I think it surprised me how easy it was,” Nicole said about her surrogacy journey. “Most people said, ‘you’re going to have a connection to the baby, how are you going to deal with that?’ I was shocked at how easy it was to not feel that connection. I went into it with the mindset, this isn’t my baby. When I feel her kick, I want to tell her parents so they can be excited,” she explained. “Of course I felt connected to Parker, I carried her for nine months. But I didn’t feel a sense of ownership over her.”
As her partner, Kevin couldn’t be more proud. “What other things can you do that makes such a difference in other people’s lives? It’s pretty amazing,” he pointed out. “It’s a lot to go through physically; it’s heavy and emotional but I’d totally recommend it.”
Nicole agreed. “It was one of the most beautiful experiences. What I didn’t realize about surrogacy before doing it was the ripple effect it would have on not just my life, but my kids,” she noted. “They’ve now seen sacrifice. I think it’s good for them, to have that impression of someone at such a young age.”
As for Samantha and Eric, she said, “they get to be the parents they deserve to be. And Sam and Eric’s mom and dad…it just keeps going, and it’s something that will never end because eventually Parker may have kids. It’s cool to know.”
One of the things that surprised Samantha the most about the surrogacy process? “I didn’t find it was nearly as scary or as disconnected as I thought it would be.”
That said, “You have to trust the people who are helping you. These pregnancies were a team effort. It became this team of people and we really trusted them.”
Not only that, but, “It’s crazy the amount of experience that has to go into this, and I think a lot of people don’t necessarily know it,” she added. “I think they get intimidated by it.”
She had some of those feelings herself, at the beginning. “Is this person going to run away with my baby? What’s my recourse if they do? Those are the fears early on as you go into it, and this is where working with ConceiveAbilities was a huge help,” she said.
“Meg, in legal, went so above and beyond for us,” Samantha added. “She’d call on a weeknight when I had a question. Every single person we worked with at ConceiveAbilities was incredible. They had a person for every step and they were always reachable.”
Ultimately, the new parents concluded, “They made a hard and complicated and emotionally trying process as stress-free as possible.”
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.