Holly recently completed her journey as a surrogate - she delivered beautiful twins in October! We're thrilled she was willing to share her candid advice on the good, the messy, and the altogether life-changing aspects of "the process."
I've taken some time to think back on my experience and put some thoughts together that I wanted to share with other surrogates (and family and friends). I love talking about my experience, so I welcome your questions!
This pregnancy will be different. Not just because it won't end in you taking home a baby, but the actual pregnancy. You will probably be more nervous, more careful - borderline paranoid. You will have different side effects, emotions. Expect the unexpected, take the good with the bad, and focus on the end result. Each piece is necessary in order to end up where you hoped to when you started this process: giving someone a baby.
How amazing it has been to share the ups and downs, knowing that there are others in this world sharing this rare and precious gift. This is something I was meant for and left a better woman because of it.
You'll think things that would be totally bizarre to anyone who hasn't been in your shoes, for example: "Are you sure this needle is intended for human use and not elephants?" "Ahhhhh...my car's 100 degree leather seats feel amazing on the knots caused by PIO!" "Hard to give up my baby?! These are not my babies. I love them very much, but I don't want them, and I will happily give them to their parents!"
Check your modesty at the door. There will be an entire list of people who want to know about the inner workings of your body. I used to hate talking about periods. Now it's as comfortable as any other dinner conversation.
When it comes to medication (particularly those administered via injection), it's mind over matter. I had never given myself or anyone else a shot, but after giving myself multiple injections every day for nearly 4 months, I have the confidence of a well trained Phlebotomist when it comes to needles.
You'll want to brag about your uterus to everyone. No seriously, I bought a "Super Uterus" t-shirt. I've never felt more proud to be a woman, or more proud of my feminine body! Pregnancy is amazing, and the science behind IVF is nothing short of mind-blowing. I believe every baby is a miracle, but some of them just take a little extra work to make happen! Sometimes it takes a village just to get pregnant!
People will be very curious when they find out you're carrying someone else's baby. Prepare yourself and your children to be able to answer questions. Fortunately, most people are very very supportive. There will definitely be people who do not understand, you'll have to find a way to deal with them as well, unfortunately most of the time it's your own family or friends.
You'll sacrifice a lot and you'll want to do some soul searching to make sure you and your family are at a place where you're all willing to do that. Think about everything that could be effected. You'll have to give up sex, wine, travel, exercise, your life as you know it if you’re put on bed rest. You'll give up sleep at a certain point, not to mention your body...and all of it is for someone else. But it's temporary, and it's all worth it to fulfill your dream and theirs. Still, don’t forget to take care of yourself! Surrogates tend to be people pleasers, we're so eager to make our IPs happy that we often forget to think of ourselves.
It’s going to feel like it’s taking forever. It's easy to get caught up in "the process" of being a surrogate and to forget the magic in what you're doing, from getting matched with intended parents, to mock cycles, to getting medical clearance, to legal clearance, and then appointment after appointment. Even towards the end on bed rest when I was frustrated and wanted to be up and active and the pinnacle of my experience was imminent, the entire purpose of the "process,” sometimes I would forget how truly amazing all of it was. Focus on what brought you here, not on the process.
You'll form some of the most amazing relationships possible. With intended parents, and with other women you'll bond with along the way. The women I've met in the last two years are some of the most inspiring people I'll ever meet. I adore them and I am constantly blown away by their selflessness. Perhaps one of the most important relationships that has been effected is with my own children. I look at them differently now, I've always loved them, but now I feel like I marvel at them. The experience has changed me as a mom, without a doubt.
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of the process to explain is how my Intended Parents' gratitude makes me feel uncomfortable. I am fortunate enough to have very positive experiences with pregnancy, and babies, so I will never fully understand their struggles. I just couldn't imagine NOT doing this for them, in fact I’m sure this is something I was put on the planet to do in my life. I knew they wanted a baby, and I'm capable of helping, so why wouldn't I?
I kept picturing the day I delivered as this Hollywood portrait, that day was to be the "pinnacle" of my experience. I'd hand over these 2 perfect little babies to their overjoyed family, we'd all have tears in our eyes, hug tightly and celebrate. My delivery was nothing like what I had pictured - but that caused me to realize that one day was not the pinnacle of the experience.
The entire experience was the pinnacle. The magic that happened the day of transfer, the day I got to call my intended mom and tell her that "we" were pregnant, the day we found out there were two, the perspective that a couple of months on bed rest allowed me, the phone call to my intended parents to tell them it was time to have babies, watching their big sister meet them for the first time, seeing my kids meet them, the friendships that have developed, the endless gratitude from family and friends. All of this is the experience, not just one day - although that day in October is one I will always celebrate.
I look forward to a day when my own kids can articulate how they feel about the experience. I hope they’ve learned the things I intended them to and that it has a positive effect on them as people, as men. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. This is absolutely one of the best things I will ever do with my life.
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.