We're thrilled that Kristina shared her thoughts from her experience as a surrogate mother. Read on to see how the decision changed her life - and the life of the family she helped to build.
During the spring of 2010, I made what I consider to be one of the best decisions of my life: I combined my love of being pregnant with my love for helping others and became a gestational surrogate. It didn't take long to realize that I had enlisted one of the best agencies in the United States to help me do that. ConceiveAbilities has never ceased to amaze me, from the early stages of applying and getting matched with recipients straight through to my delivery. The support they provided before and after Baby Reed was born was wonderful.
Words can't express how impressed I've been with this agency. They have been incredibly thorough and truly care about providing an optimal experience to each and every one of their surrogates and intended parents. They made sure I was paired with a couple well-suited for me. Though more than a thousand miles separated us, we couldn't have been better matched. We became close despite the distance between us and were always appreciative of what the other brought to the relationship. Now, post delivery, I can honestly say that this journey has created a beautiful friendship between us; one that will exist far beyond the birth of their son.
Was the journey flawless from start to finish? Of course not. Though we were working with one of the best fertility centers in the nation, our first embryo transfer ultimately resulted in an ectopic pregnancy. Deb Levy, Alicia Denefe and their staff saw us through it and supported me and the intended parents as we dealt with the heartache. The support from the other surrogate mothers I came to know through ConceiveAbilities' support group was also unbelievable. It's funny to think how I thought "support" was something I would never need - or even want - when I first heard about it. Yet it became one of my most favorite things about the whole experience. I've become close to so many other surrogates, thanks to ConceiveAbilities, and I think I can speak for each one of them when I say that this support has been extra "icing on the cake." As a Labor and Delivery nurse who has delivered babies for other surrogates, I hear firsthand how other agencies fall short of providing this level of service.
It didn't matter one bit that the little one growing inside of me wasn't genetically mine; my happiness that day was for the couple whose family would soon be growing by one.
Thankfully, our second embryo transfer was successful. I recall the smiles on the parents' faces the day we transferred the embryos, but also knew that the uncertainty made them feel vulnerable. The couple and I had an opportunity to see the embryos in the incubator just before the transfer - they were perfect and beautiful. The reproductive endocrinologist hugged the intended mother after transferring the embryos, and a tear fell from the intended mother's eye. Seeing that, tears began to fall from mine as well. It was a moment filled with an indescribable feeling - and all of us forming a team working toward the same goal. I was optimistic about this transfer's success and refused to think otherwise. I wanted to be an unwavering, constant source of support and encouragement to the couple I was helping. I still remember the day I found out I was pregnant and that the intended parents were expecting and the intense happiness that overcame me. It didn't matter one bit that the little one growing inside of me wasn't genetically mine; my happiness that day was for the couple whose family would soon be growing by one.
Those next nine months as a surrogate mother went by in a blink of an eye and were filled with doctor appointments, ultrasounds and eventually kicks, nudges and flips. Due to distance and their location, the intended parents were only able to be at a handful of my many ultrasounds and appointments. The 20 week ultrasound was their first opportunity to see their little one in action. They sat quietly, intensely studying the screen as the technician moved the transducer over my belly. I am sure that day contained a lot of excitement for them, but I also sensed trepidation. During the next 19 weeks, contact with the parents increased even more. I made sure to send ultrasound pictures as they occurred and even managed to send a few videos of the baby's kicks - they especially liked those!
I was blessed with an easy and uneventful pregnancy and the delivery went exactly as we had hoped. The mother and I had numerous conversations those last few months planning the labor and delivery process and were fortunate that we were able to make those conversations become reality. With outstanding support from her during my labor, I was able to give her the un-medicated birth she wanted for her child. By doing that for her, I also came to realize how much it gave back to me. I had never felt such empowerment as I did that morning, and December 30th, 2011, is a day I never forget. It ranks right up there with the birth of my own two children. Words can't describe how I felt when I saw the intended parents catch the first glimpse of their newborn son - nor can they describe the completeness I am sure they felt that day. I am incredibly honored to have been able to help them achieve their dream of bringing a child into this world with gestational surrogacy, and am filled with such happiness every time I get an update or see a new picture of him. There truly is no greater gift a woman can give.
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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.