Throughout this journey I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with a lot of people about the surrogacy process. The more people I spoke to the more I got “Oh, Wow. I’ve heard of surrogacy but I’ve never actually met anyone who has done it. Can I ask you some questions?!” So, I’ve decided to answer some of the most common questions on the blog.
Hands down, the number one comment/question would be: Oh, I would never be able to do that. I don’t think I could give away the baby! Do you think you’ll be able to give it up… won’t that be hard to just give the baby away?
This is an innocent question in and of itself, but it always makes me laugh inside. The abbreviated answer is simply, NO! Absolutely not. I will proudly hand Baby Roo back to his/her parents with a sense of pride and accomplishment! This scenario is often put in the wrong perspective. I am not GIVING UP or GIVING AWAY a baby. You can’t give up something that never belonged to you. I am simply giving L&R their baby BACK. I’ve never babysat a child and thought, “I like this one. I think I’m keeping it.” and I’ve never borrowed a friend’s car and enjoyed the smooth ride so much that I decided I was never returning it. The same applies to a surro-pregnancy. Roo was created using L&R’s egg and sperm. I knew going into this that he/she wasn’t mine, so there isn’t a desire to “keep” the baby.
Another thing to consider is that surrogates are typically required to have at least one child of their own… which mean we’re all raising one or more children already. Our hands and lives are full enough with our own biological children!
Also, surrogates go into this process wanting to give another couple (or person) the opportunity to experience biological parenthood. Having a desire to keep a baby would totally contradict this purpose.
Next usually comes: Do you feel a sense of connection to the baby?
I felt a great sense of guilt with this question in the beginning, because the answer is NO. I felt like maybe I was a bad person for not having the same maternal instinct that I had with my own children. So many people expected me to feel this great sense of connectivity to Roo, but that just wasn’t there. I have since learned that the way I feel is a pretty common feeling! (Phew. I’m not a cold hearted person after all!) Baby Roo is very much loved by myself, Jeff and the kids. Roo’s bump is kissed and hugged by my kids every day when I drop them off at school, and Jeff talks to my belly and gives it a rub often. I take every health and safety precaution that I did when pregnant with my own kids to ensure a safe and healthy baby. But as far as feeling those motherly “Mama Bear” feelings, they just aren’t there. I would probably say the best comparison would be “Aunt” feelings. I love my nieces and nephews and would do anything in my power to keep them happy and safe, but I don’t have the same fierce maternal connection with them as I do with my own kids. My hope is that as the years pass we can keep that Aunt-ish relationship going, because as I said, Roo is still very much loved… just differently.
Those who are a bit confused typically ask: Will the baby look like you?
This is often an irritating question, because even after I explain it, a lot of people still don’t fully “get it”. NO. The baby won’t look like me. It’s absolutely impossible for the baby to have any of my genetics, because we aren’t genetically linked in any way. Since the IP’s used their own egg and sperm, the baby has nothing to do with me. This will likely be confusing to some after the birth, since the IPs are Caucasians with dark hair and one has brown eyes… so Roo may look “similar” to me simply out of coincidence. However, I assure you that gestational surrogacy lends NO genetic attributes to the baby. (Traditional surrogacy, however, is a different story… which is where I think people get confused.)
And then: Are you going to nurse the baby?
No. I won’t be nursing the baby and I don’t know of any surrogates who do directly nurse. However, plenty of surrogates do pump their milk and then the parents bottle feed that to the baby. I have an extensive lineage of breast cancer in my family, so since breast feeding/pumping reduces breast cancer risks, I do plan on pumping following delivery. Roo will get as much colostrum and milk as possible while they are here, but once they return to Chicago they plan to switch to formula. At that point I will be donating my pumped milk to the local NICU unit to help the wee ones who are fighting to survive. A QUICK EDIT: After posting this I was contacted by a women who has completed a surrogacy. She mentioned that she DID nurse her surro-baby in the hospital. So, some surrogates do nurse! Just because I haven’t heard of it happening, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. 🙂 Surro-nursing may occur more than I thought!
Sometimes those who are bold will ask: Do you get compensated?
The answer is yes. When I originally learned about surrogacy, I offered to do a “free” surrogacy for a coworker who was unable to conceive with her husband. By the time I offered, she was already making plans to start working towards retirement. The timing just didn’t work out. So, when I decided to use an agency (ConceiveAbilities), I then learned that you are compensated. Every surrogate’s compensation is different depending on the details of her contract. Something to note is that depending on the wording in the contracts, surrogacy compensation can be taxed as income. My agency files the compensation with the IRS so I will be taxed at the end of the year. Some other agencies don’t.
People who know I have children often want to know: What do your kids think?
Easton and Everli have just accepted the pregnancy at face value. Since they are both young (2 and 4) they don’t fully understand how babies or families are traditionally made. From their perspective, everyone has babies this way. There haven’t been many questions from them. They have met L&R and love both of them! The kids and I have had plenty of conversations about the fact that Roo isn’t ours and that he/she belongs to L&R.
That being said, I recently realized that they have made sacrifices in their own little ways. We had the following conversation this past weekend:
Me to the kids – “Hey! I never told you guys… Baby Roo’s mommy and daddy are coming to visit us next week. They’re coming to take Baby Roo back home with them!”
Easton turns to Everli and says – “Everli! Did you hear that?! We get to sit on Mommy’s lap again soon!! Yaaay.”
They then cheered, hugged, and danced around. I’ve always looked at things from an adult perspective. From a kid’s perspective they aren’t concerned with Roo leaving, they’re more interested in the little things like being able to sit in my lap again.
Will you still get to see them after they leave?
Yes! Part of the matching process with ConceiveAbilites was matching personal preferences, such as future interactions. We all entered the surrogacy with the understanding that we would all love to continue a relationship after Roo is born. Since they are far away, it will likely be mostly pictures and texts with an occasional visit over the years, but I will still get to see Roo grow up and L&R grow as parents. That being said, our contract also explicitly says that either party can cut ties and stop communication without any repercussions if any of us feel it is necessary.
And finally: Would you do it again?
I had zero, and I mean ZERO, people ask me this until about a month ago. Which makes me laugh because at this point I am at the very end of the pregnancy, 35 pounds over my starting weight, and waddling through the extreme heat of a Florida summer… Do you think any pregnant person would answer yes to that question at this point?! LOL
On a serious note, despite my hatred for late pregnancy ailments, the answer is yes. I would absolutely do this again! Watching the excitement of L&R as this journey has unfolded and knowing that they are about to become parents after all of their struggles, and that it has been made possible through this surrogacy, is a feeling that surpasses anything I’ve ever experienced thus far in my life. I always joke that they have no idea how crazy their life is about to get once they enter parenthood, but it really has been amazing to help them get there.
Imagine that feeling on Christmas morning when you have all of the gifts wrapped and placed under the tree. You’ve picked out the perfect items and you know that you have everything they’ve asked for. You may not have a single gift under the tree for yourself, but that doesn’t matter because you’re just excited to see the excitement on your children’s faces when the unwrapping begins. That is exactly like a surrogacy! Next week is “Christmas morning” for us, and while there are no presents under the tree for me, I know that I have the exact gift that L&R have been hoping for! I absolutely can’t wait to see the looks on their faces once everything is “unwrapped”. ❤