The Spark: Why
I became interested in surrogacy almost ten years ago when a loved one struggled to have a baby. I considered offering to carry a child for her; however, just before I was to offer, we got the news. After years of failed attempts including IVF, she miraculously conceived…. twins! It was such a blessing for her family, which then put surrogacy out of my mind until two years ago when my close friend disclosed that she had done it and was in the process for her second go-round of the journey. Again, it weighed on my heart and curiosities to embark in this adventure. I prayed. I talked with my mother- my spiritual comrade- about the biblical implications of this decision. I earned her blessing, which was vitally important to me. Yet, I dragged my feet because foolishly I had hoped that my best guy friend who desperately wanted a baby girl would stop joking that we “make a baby” and seriously ask me. Then my life got busy… It wasn’t until December 2020, when my friend said she’d give my info to the agency, that I truly let God take the lead. Lord, let this gift of love flow freely.
2014: My Bathtub Baby
The Stipulation: What’s Important
After having three children of my own, I experienced the importance of nursing upon delivery. The hormones that are released help to close or tighten the organs and enable me to heal faster. The colostrum/first milk are extremely valuable to the baby’s development. Therefore, the stipulation in finding a couple was that they must allow the baby to be breastfed after delivery.
Nursing is a time of bonding for the mother and child; however, this is not my child. The mother-to-be may become fearful that I am bonding with her child and not want this to occur. However, I see the act as a very practical time meant for biological benefits for the surrogate and the child. Even with my own children, bonding took time- rich with new experiences and personality development. I hope that expressing the practicality of it will ease the trepidations of the new mom.
The Three That Mean the World:
“Mom, if I can’t have a baby when I’m older, will you have it for me?” Of my three, my middle girl (i.e., 8 years old) is the most interested in the process. She asks me almost everyday when I’m going to “get a fat belly” with a baby. We’ve watched videos of the meaning and process and she clearly understands that we will not be keeping it when it arrives… Her enthusiasm is contagious!
My friend, on the only hand, reserves the right to share the experience with her young children until after the first trimester and well into “the safety zone.” I completely understand and respect her decision; however, I wish I had known that fact prior to telling her 8-year old that I was going to be a surrogate too. I had to backtrack my statements when she said, “What? My mom’s pregnant and didn’t tell me!” Oops.
Prepping for Pregnancy
Only one of mine was planned. And nope, it wasn’t my first. I didn’t know to take prenatal vitamins in the months leading to conception because conception was the furthest from my mind! But now I’ve wised up. As soon as I made the decision, I marched myself down to the pharmacy to pick a packet of a prenatal prescription (just kidding, it was a non-Rx bottle from a large corporate retailer… come on… just let me have the alliteration!). The next step, stop with the birth control. So… I had my IUD removed in January… Now fellas, don’t come knockin’ down my door! I’m saving myself.
Hi, I’m Aaron. I have three children of my own. They are beautifully crafted gifts from God. I cannot imagine life without our connection, love, laughter, and struggles. This journey is not only for me, it is a family experience that will last a lifetime!
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It all happens so fast. They told me to expect a same-sex couple due to my stipulation about breastfeeding. “Great!” I said. I’m here for the experience of giving one of the most- if not the most- precious gift to a couple who wish to love a child! Then I got the email about The Couple: Now for the sake of their privacy, I will not be divulging any information about them, but it would be nice to give them names… Ah yes…
"My father’s name was Walter Shirley, and he was a teacher in the Bolingbroke High School. My mother’s name was Bertha Shirley. Aren’t Walter and Bertha lovely names? I’m so glad my parents had nice names."
From Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables
We shall refer to them as Walter and Bertha. Such lovely and distinguished names, don’t you think? They were humble and sweet and didn’t mind my American exuberance.
In this process there is no time wasted: We got right into the discussion of nursing. “Bertha” admitted her qualms- rightfully so, any mom would be hesitant- but was willing to work out a plan so that we are all comfortable. Shortly after our video conference, I got the text: They liked me! They want to move forward.
Details, Details, Details
This process doesn’t start with an egg nor a sperm. It starts with legal, escrow, insurance, and IVF clearance.
The funds are held prior to matching with a surrogate. Monies will be reimbursed for the typical expenses of being pregnant and any needed time off work. These are in addition to the “rental fee” of my cozy warm uterus.
For the last several months, I only had my student insurance because I am now an independent contractor with my work (thus no company benefits). I have been researching policies and wondering which one would be best for someone “trying to conceive” but not yet pregnant? Yet when I’m faced with so many choices, I freeze. So I was surprised and equally thrilled to get the email stating that their contact would be working with me to set up an insurance policy that they had already chosen for me! YES!!! Not only that, “I am sending you the funds to pay for it.”
I took off work to visit the IVF clinic in March. It was a lovely sunny day to smell the salty breeze near the ocean, so I also treated myself to brunch at an iconic eatery. At the clinic, they took vials of blood, a urine sample, and examined the walls of my uterus. Everything checked out A-Okay! About a week later, I received the official medical clearance, despite a slight insufficiency in my Vitamin D level. Next, I was to start taking low-dose aspirin, 2000 IU of Vitamin D, continue with the prenatal vitamin, and start the pill on the second day of my next period (so they could have greater control over the cycle). After each step, I think, “Wow, I’m really doing this! I’m one step closer to carrying someone’s child!”
In the beginning of April, I reviewed the first draft of the contract with my attorney. We added the nursing request and stipulated that a C-section would be a last resort. Also, although I am open to other necessary vaccinations, I declined the COVID vaccine. There’s just not enough information yet, especially for an unborn fetus; therefore, I will continue to follow the guidelines set by the CDC so that the baby and I remain safe. The legal contract also contained other details of the surrogacy plan and participants’ rights/responsibilities. My attorney made a few proposed changes and now their lawyer will review it with them. We’ll deliberate until both parties are comfortable with the plan. Our final terms will be ironclad- unless anyone’s got a diamond (blade that is).
Finally, I will begin the medications prior to implantation.
Scampering Boulders in Joshua Tree NP
I am usually not one who takes prescription medications because I prefer natural remedies and methods. I didn’t mind taken “the pill” for a few weeks but was glad when I was able to stop because it tends to give me these “reality shifts” that are like vertigo. I also have to take estrogen daily. After starting this one, I noticed having more anxiety-type bubbles in my chest. I just need to lay down and breathe when that happens. It passes quickly. The big one has been progesterone INJECTIONS. Yes, that’s why, I’ve started shooting up. I was incredibly nervous the first time I did it. I don’t have a problem with needles (I like to watch the nurse do it), but I haven’t used one on myself. I didn’t fear the pain. I feared that I would get an air bubble in there or stick it in wrong. I had two videos for reference, which were extremely helpful. My surrogate friend also offered to help. But I thought, I’m a strong-ass woman… I can do this! I prepped the injection site, added the progesterone oil to the syringe, switched needles… but when I was trying to get the cap off the second needle, it slipped and stuck me three times in the fingers. Honestly, I have no idea how it got me 3 times! hahaha. So, then I had to deal with blood everywhere while trying to keep going with my mission of sticking my butt. I twisted my torso around to find the best spot- 90 degree angle- and push. It went through like “buttuh.” The injection site was tender for several days- way more than the other sites the next days. I wondered if this was because I did it a bit too far back or was it because there may have been something from the finger prick inside the needle. Interestingly, the spot on my fingers was bruised for a few days after but the injection sites were not. But… all in all… I made it through.