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An Interview with ConceiveAbilities Repeat Surrogate Amanda: Sibling Journey

November 29th, 2019
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Amanda’s surrogacy journey stemmed from a lifelong goal to do something meaningful and special with her life. As a registered nurse of nearly seven years, Amanda recognized that her profession provided her with a unique balance of compassion and logic. When Amanda became pregnant with her second child, the pieces began to fit together. She realized that becoming a surrogate would be a perfect path for her to fulfill her personal goals by helping another family accomplish their dreams. She knew that her nursing background, combined with her own successful pregnancies and genuine desire to help others, would make her the ideal candidate to become a surrogate. After matching with her same-sex IPs, she gave birth to her first surrobaby in July 2017. She started her second journey in 2018 to help the same IPs complete their quest for a second child, who was born almost exactly two years later.

We are thrilled that we were able to catch up with Amanda and her husband Scott [hyperlink to Scott’s post] to hear more about their experience throughout Amanda’s surrogacy journeys. We are incredibly grateful for their thoughtful and candid responses and for the chance to share their story.

Starting the journey

Question: How did you and Scott meet? How long have you been together?

Amanda: Scott and I were introduced through friends. My coworker was actually trying to set Scott up with one of her friends, but Scott and I ended up hitting it off. We talked on the phone for hours that next night and the rest is history. That coworker ended up becoming one of my closest friends, she ended up marrying Scott’s friend, and now we are like family. Scott and I have been together for 15 years this October and married now for 12 1/2 years.

Q: What do you like to do for fun/hobbies?

A: I love to play games, watch movies, go to musicals, travel, love going to Bingo. My favorite thing is to be with family, we love playing family games, watching movies together, traveling, [and] going to amusement parks.

Q: Amanda, you have an awesome quote from your application about why you wanted to be a surrogate. You said, "I have two beautiful wonderful children and I couldn't imagine my life without them. If my husband and I were unable to conceive on our own, I would hope there would be someone out there to help us. I had very easy pregnancies and loved being pregnant, so I figured there is no better gift I can give, then to help someone else make their dreams come true as well." Anything you want to edit or add to that?

A: I feel like that quote sums up why I chose to be a surrogate. The only thing I would add is, I’ve always wanted to do something special with my life that had true meaning that not everyone else could do. After giving birth to my own kids and knowing my family was complete, I realized that being a surrogate could be my something special. I knew I would be able to change someone’s life and be able to help give them the most amazing gift in the world. After doing two surrogacies and helping create and complete a family, I feel like I’ve met my goal of doing something extra special with my life, and I take great pride in that.

Q: Besides being grateful for your own children, was there anything in particular which inspired you to begin considering surrogacy?

A: The first time I even thought about surrogacy was when I was actually pregnant with my last child. A coworker of mine had ovarian cancer and could no longer have children of her own and I remember her saying how much she wished she could [have] had more kids. I think it made me realized how blessed I was to have been able to become pregnant with my own kids so easily. I realized that there are many people/couples out there who need help, and I had a body/uterus capable of making other people’s dreams come true.

Q: Did you work as a nurse through all of your pregnancies? If not around what week did you start taking it easy?

A: I was in nursing school when I got pregnant with my first child, Kennedy. I gave birth to her 3 months after finishing school. I was working as an LPN at the time during school and continued working as an LPN all the way up until I gave birth. After time off with Kennedy, I got a job as an RN, I worked up until all of my deliveries with my other 3 pregnancies as well.

Q: I feel like nurses make awesome surrogates. I personally would absolutely want a nurse to carry my baby. Do you feel like there is something about being a nurse that lends nicely to being a surrogate?

A: I think most nurses go into nursing for a reason; they have a need/want to help others, and I would say most have a caring personality about them. Nurses have a clear emotional side and care for others, but they also have a logical/scientific side that understands the facts. I think this definitely makes a great surrogate; for me, I loved the children I carried for my IPs and I will always love them, they were a part of me for 9 months. I wanted to keep them safe and did everything I needed for them, but I logically understood that they were not my children and that my uterus and body was a little incubator to keep them safe and to grow until they were ready to be handed over to their parents - their parents who I knew wanted and loved them so much!

Meeting her match

Q: Do you remember any of the match preferences you had? Any particular sort of family you want to work with? Did you go in hoping to be matched with a same-sex couple?

A: For me, I think I was pretty open, [there were] only two things I wanted. The first thing was that I wanted IPs who had no children yet, I wanted to be able to help give them their first child. The second thing was that I wanted IPs who couldn’t have children of their own, whether that was due to being a same sex couple or an IM who medically couldn’t carry a child.

Q: What was your first impression of your IPs when you met them at your video match meeting?

A: I loved my IPs instantly. I remember them looking so happy and excited. I could see and feel their desire and want to be parents, and I feel like they instantly had so much trust in me. I remember every time the guys answered a question, I would say to myself, that is exactly how I feel, and it just made me so excited for the possibility of the match.

Q: At what point did you start to feel truly at ease and comfortable with your IPs?

A: I was so nervous to meet them in person at our 20 week ultrasound. We had been communicating so much by texts [beforehand], which helped ease the nervousness a little bit, but I think spending the few weeks together before giving birth the first journey was when things really changed for me.

Q: In what ways were you guys a good match?

A: I think the trust we had for each other made us a good much. They trusted me and my judgment throughout the pregnancy, and I tried to keep them updated on everything possible. I wanted them to be as involved as possible. I sent them videos from the first injection, videos of the heartbeat at every appointment, and videos of the baby moving in my belly.

Q: How do you think carrying for IFs is different that carrying for a hetero couple? Any pointers for surrogates carrying for gay dads?

A: I loved carrying for my IFs. At first I wasn’t sure what to share with them because I felt like some of the stuff you would share with a [woman] or mother. I felt, though, that I wanted them to know everything, because it is their baby, and they were always so excited for everything I had to tell them. I remember taking a picture of my breast milk I pumped and being so excited about the amount I got out in the first few days, and thinking, “should I send this to them? Are guys going to care about my milk? Will they understand?” I chose to send the picture, and they were just as excited as I was - they somehow understood the hard work it took and made me feel appreciated for doing that for them and the baby. For me with IFs, I never felt like I was stepping on anyone’s toes, I didn’t feel like I was taking over anyone’s role.

Q: Any stories about how your relationship developed?

A: One that I still think is crazy…one night they sent me a picture of a banana cake they had just made. I was literally shocked, I walked up to the kitchen and took a picture of my countertop, where I had literally just got done making a banana cake a few hours prior. To us it was just crazy that we both made the same desert and it’s not like it was something super common either.

Surrogate life

Q: What was the embryo transfer like?

A: I just remember the embryo transfers being so fast. I didn’t really know what to expect going in, I remember being brought into the room and being done [within] a few minutes. I remember thinking, “wow that’s it, now I could be pregnant.”

Q: After the embryo transfer, were you confident, or worried, or did you just try not to think about it?

A: First journey, I was so confident. They transferred 2 embryos and I just knew one or both were going to take, I just felt it in my body. The second journey, I was definitely worried…they only transferred one the second time and since the first time they transferred two and only one stuck, I was worried with only transferring one that it may not stick.

Q: Did you tell your IPs the transfer had worked or did the clinic?

A: I took at home pregnancy test with both transfers starting on day 4, and got positive results with both. My IPs wanted me to test at home and wanted to know the results, so they knew before I went in for my betas with both journeys. Since they are international, as soon as the clinic called me, I would always message them right away with the results.

Q: We all LOVE that Kristina Fabis [ConceiveAbilities' Surrogate Acceptance Coordinator and RNC-OB] was working and present for your first delivery. Is it true that she also did your intake screening? Did she do your home visit?

A: Kristina I believe did my intake screening, she definitely did my home visit. I was lucky enough to have Kristina be my nurse for both deliveries.

Q: What was your delivery like? Were your IPs nervous?

A: I think the hospital was accommodating, the IPs were given a separate room for after delivery for them and baby. [The hospital] let me have both IPs and my husband in the room at the time of delivery. I think my IPs were definitely nervous the first delivery, but they did a good job not showing it. Second time they knew what to expect so I think they were calmer. Both my deliveries were induced after they didn’t come on their own, so the IPs got to witness the whole process from labor to delivery. Seeing their faces when their babies were born was amazing, the joy and love on their faces is the reason I chose to be a surrogate.

Q: Did you go into surrogacy planning on doing more than one journey or was it your IPs asking for a sibling journey that inspired you?

A: My goal was always to do one journey and see how it goes. Once I became pregnant and developed a relationship with my IPs, I definitely wanted to do a second journey with them. I knew they wanted more than one child, so I was so excited when they asked me to do a sibling journey.

Q: If your IPs would not have asked for a sibling journey do you think you would have done a second journey?

A: I’m not sure, I loved my first journey and definitely wanted to do a second with them. If they changed their minds and decided they were going to have only one child, I may have thought about doing a second with another family.

Q: You delivered a beautiful 8 pound 11 oz baby in July 2017. How soon thereafter did your second journey begin?

A: We already knew before I delivered that we would be doing a second journey; we discussed it and knew that the IPs wanted to transfer the following year around the same time as our first journey, so that the kids were 2 years apart. So we slowly worked on the process over the year, knowing we were planning an October transfer in 2018. I think we officially rematched in March of 2018. [My] surrobabies are 1 week shy of being two years apart.

Family matters

Q: Thank you for being open to a photographer coming to take pictures after delivery. There is a photo of your daughter looking up at you that we are all obsessed with. This photo is mommy daughter goals! What did your daughter think of your being a surrogate?

A: My daughter I hope is proud of me. She had to create a poster for school at the beginning of the school year that was about them and their family. She asked me for a picture of me and her, so I printed one off and gave it to her for school. When I went to the school for an event, I saw all the kids’ posters hanging in the hall outside her classroom. I went to read Kennedy’s and there was one question that asked “who is your hero?” The kids have usually picked my husband in the past for these types of things, but underneath the question I saw the picture of us together and she wrote something along the lines of, “My mom is my hero because she is a nurse and takes care of people and she is a surrogate and helps people have babies.” My heart obviously melted and I had to try hard not to cry; it makes me proud that I’ve made an impression on her.

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Q: I would LOVE a quote from your daughter and/or your son about what they think about your having been a surrogate.

A: Reid says “I’m proud of her because she was doing it for somebody else.” Kennedy says “I think it was exciting, because we got to do lots of fun stuff with the guys and see Camila and Gaspar. I’m also proud of her.”

Q: Did your kids have any funny or cute questions along the way?

A: Well my kids were 6 and 5 when my husband and I first explained everything to [them], so they didn’t quite understand the concept of how I was going to get pregnant with my IFs’ baby. We bought them the book The Kangaroo Pouch, which was helpful. My son was actually the most curious and asked the most questions - he couldn’t understand how they were going to get the baby inside of me. He asked me if I swallowed the baby to put her in my belly. At 5 and 6 they didn’t really understand how babies are naturally made or born, so I remember trying to explain to them how it takes a male seed and female egg to make a baby and that they are going to put two inside of me and see if one or both stick. I remember my son asking “how many seeds daddy gave me” when I got pregnant with him. My husband and I still laugh a lot about those conversations.

Q: What was the most common question you got as a surrogate?

A: The most common questions were definitely “how are you going to feel about giving up the baby?” and “wasn’t that hard to give up the baby?” I would always explain that I wasn't giving up a baby, I never had a baby to begin with. I would try my best to explain that there are two parents who love the baby so much, have been waiting for this baby, have been there the whole pregnancy - it is their baby! They couldn’t physically carry the baby while it grew in my belly, but they were there every step of the way, loving that baby and waiting to meet them. I was just a vessel to make their dream a reality.

Q: How has being a surrogate affected you?

A: I think being a surrogate and doing these two journeys has made me realize what’s important in life. I’ve tried to learn to let go of the non-important stuff and focus on family and what makes me happy. I think becoming a surrogate has also pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m normally pretty shy, and I feel like these journeys have helped me open up to new things.

Q: What was the highlight of your journey?

A: [The] highlight was definitely spending the two summers with my IPs. Because they are international, they came three weeks before delivery and stayed three weeks after delivery. We really got to spend a lot of time together and get to know each other. I also got to get lots of baby cuddles in before they flew home. I love knowing I helped create an amazing family.

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Just like Amanda, we take pride in knowing that every step we take is aligned with helping intended parents achieve their dreams of building their family through surrogacy. We are so appreciative of all our surrogates and intended parents for trusting us with one of the most fulfilling journeys of their lives, and are especially appreciative of Amanda for sharing her story with us! Check out our blog for more inspiring stories of how other women have experienced the journey of surrogacy.