I have had so many people ask me so many questions about gestational surrogacy…then, they stop themselves and say something along the lines of “I hope I’m not being too blunt…I just don’t know anything about it.” Or “Am I being too personal? If I am, just tell me.” And if you’ve ever said this to me, you’re probably now thinking, “Crap, she’s writing this because of me. I offended her.”
I’m not. And you didn’t. Please know that.
I’m writing this because of the MANY questions I’ve been asked, the MANY comments I’ve heard shared on the surrogacy pages I follow, and the sometimes hurtful comments people have made to Jessica.
First and foremost, if you have not lived the life of infertility or been close to someone who has, you probably don’t know the first thing about the many options available out there for those who do struggle with fertility. And that is totally understandable…but isn’t it best to educate ourselves on unfamiliar things so that we are not ignorant to the simple facts?
I think so.
Now that I have been thrown into the world of infertility with zero hope of escaping without the assistance of a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) and a gestational surrogate (GS), it’s easy to say “Yes, we should all be aware of the simple facts.”
But how can we know and understand the simple facts of something so unfamiliar…so not your “normal”…so not your reality?
Reading about it, being open-minded, and asking questions.
And as I said, all of the many questions I’ve been asked has prompted me to write this…I am happy to answer the questions when asked in a respectful way. Because with a topic as fragile as infertility…ignorance is NOT bliss…and can sometimes come off a little offensive.
The facts I’m sharing below stem from questions I’ve been asked, comments I’ve heard made, questions Jessica has been asked, or even questions I’ve had about gestational surrogacy and will hopefully be informative to you and help you to be more educated on the topic. This is not a list of questions NOT to ask…but more of a list of questions and answers to help you to turn the tables and see what it is like from our perspective. Please don’t take it as my indirect, defensive plea telling you to “back off”, as I understand this concept is so new to most…
“Wow. You are so strong, I don’t know if I could ever let someone else carry my child.”
You don’t know if you could ever do it? How could you know? Unless you’ve ever been faced with the decision, “Either have no more children or let someone else carry our child?”, then you can’t know. It’s not that we are strong at all…it’s that our desire for more children is so strong and this is our only option (biologically). And then on top of that, God has given us the strength to emotionally accept the fact that this is now our reality.
“How much does it cost? You must be rich.”
I understand this is such a foreign idea to some that they are totally intrigued and probably don’t understand that asking how much it costs is a little intrusive. It costs a lot. And if you’re that curious…Google it. You’ll find some ball park numbers that will give you a pretty good idea. And no, we’re not rich…but we are sacrificing in other areas so that we can afford to pay for it. When your heart desires something so much, you find a way to make it happen. If you are in our shoes and are reading this, do NOT let the expense deter you!!
“Has your surrogate been tested for genetic disorders, like that breast cancer gene?”
Why would she be? The baby(ies) will be genetically ours, not hers and her husband’s. That is traditional surrogacy…we are doing gestational surrogacy…huge difference. In gestational surrogacy, embryos are transferred into the surrogate that were created using the intended mother’s (that’s me) eggs and the intended father’s (that’s JJ) sperm. The gestational surrogate basically acts as an incubator for the duration of the pregnancy. Did you not pay attention in health science in high school? At the moment of conception, a genetically unique human being has been created…genes are passed on at the moment of conception. Therefore, our baby(ies) have all of their genetic make up already…half me, half JJ (although, my hubby’s dominate genes seem to overtake the appearance of Avery, making the whole 50/50 ratio seem inaccurate). 😉
“Just think, now you won’t have to deal with all the pregnancy issues…weight gain, morning sickness, tiredness, etc.”
I wasn’t one who LOVED being pregnant…although now, I certainly wish I would’ve enjoyed it more. I am a doer and I didn’t enjoy being tired and restricted from doing things I love. BUT I would go back and do it all over again and again if I was able to. I may joke with you about this comment if you’ve said it to me, because you knew how much I didn’t enjoy pregnancy…but deep down, it’s like a slight twist of the barren knife in my back. Although I didn’t enjoy the restrictions that came with pregnancy, I loved feeling Avery move inside of me, going to sleep with her every night right below my heart, knowing that I was creating our child inside of me…a miraculous process designed by God, and I long for that again but will never have it. I would welcome a 50 lb weight gain, a belly covered in stretch marks, and ankles the size of Shrek’s to carry another child.
“How are you sure your GS will give the baby up?”
Give the baby up? Don’t you mean give the baby back? Remember…this was never her baby…it’s our baby. She is just taking over for me and completing my job as an expectant mother because I am physically unable to, then she will give the baby back. It may be mind-blowing for you, it was for me at first, too, but some women actually have the heart for this. And I am so very thankful God lead us to Jessica, whose heart is in the right place. There is no doubt in our minds that she will give our baby(ies) back.
“Do you have to have some sort of legal advice/involvement through this?”
Absolutely! We both have an attorney representing us. This part of the process is what Jessica and I have labeled the “unexciting” part. While very necessary and important, the contract drafting and negotiating can take the wind out of your sails if you let it. The four of us have all been very open and honest since the beginning…we discussed numbers and “what if’s” before we even began the process…so going into the drafting stage, we were all on the same page. Now, the proofreading and signing of our 32 page contract is just a formality (but a very important formality, put in place for the protection of all parties involved).
“Are you going to/what will you tell Avery?”
If, God-willing, this all works and we have a baby or babies on the way, we will tell her that she is going to be a big sister. She has met Jessica and Justin and knows them by name. She has FaceTimed with Jessica’s son and is very familiar with their family. We have already told her that Jessica is a very special person to us and we will certainly explain to her, in terms a 2-3 year old can understand, that Jessica will be completing this very special job for us. Believe it or not, this is a fairly “common” thing and there are even children’s books written on the topic to help explain it to your children. This won’t be odd to Avery…this will be the only way she knows that you can get a sibling. And if this all works out, we will have the MOST AMAZING story to share with our children someday…and Jessica of course will be one of the main characters!
“So…how does it all work anyways…how does she get pregnant?”
Well, the actual procedure is called a “transfer”. Gestational surrogates must prep their bodies anywhere from 5-8 weeks before the scheduled transfer with injectable medicines. The meds do a number of things…stop the carrier from ovulating, thicken up the uterine lining, provide a progesterone supplement, etc. Once a GS’s lining is measuring within the desired range, they are ready for the transfer. The process is fairly quick and the embryo(s) are inserted into her uterus. After that, she will be on basic bed rest for 24 hours. Then you pray and hope for a positive pregnancy test days later!
While I pray that you never have to be on the IP’s side of a gestational surrogacy journey, I do hope that this helped to inform you of the emotional process that IP’s go through. I also want to say how very thankful I am to all of the amazing gestational surrogates out there who have given hope to their IPs for a life and a family that wouldn’t be possible without them.
And a very special thank you to Jessica…we could not have dreamt of a more perfect and suitable carrier for our child(ren).
Please keep us all in your prayers as we inch closer to our transfer date and as Jessica begins her meds in preparation for the transfer! We truly appreciate all of our prayer warriors out there!
Glory to Him,