This is the second installment in a series by author Kendra on her experience as a surrogate. Please see below for the first installment(s):
As I write this post, Facebook is reminding me that one year ago today was the IVF transfer date for my surrogacy. So much has happened in that year, and a beautiful baby with a loving family now exists in the world. So, I feel today is the perfect day to look back on where it all began.
Looking back on the process of becoming a “stork,” my metaphorical term for a gestational surrogate, I remember being completely overwhelmed. What is the first thing we do when we are overwhelmed? We search and scroll, we rummage through articles and forums, we hunt for answers, and we hope to find someone who has been where we are now.
Unfortunately, the internet can also be pretty overwhelming. Remember the first time you were scrolling through parenting/pregnancy/fertility forums? The acronyms alone! DS, DD, BFP, BFN, BBT, LMP…and my favorite, POAS (pee on a stick, in case you were wondering). Well, I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised that surrogacy forums have a seemingly endless amount of acronyms all their own. I learned quickly that IP stood for intended parents, GS and GC stood for gestational surrogate and gestational carrier, respectively, and that if you put the word traditional in front of either of those terms it means something completely different (a traditional gestational carrier has a genetic connection to the child, unlike the gestational carrier that has no genetic connection).
When I began this journey I quickly realized that I was stepping into a whole new world, and I had a lot of learning to do. In all of the research that followed, however, I noticed something. Many of the forums, posts, and articles I read through were written by intended parents, doctors, and agencies. There was little I found written by carriers themselves. Looking back on this whole experience, that was the one thing I was missing from day one until delivery: a fellowship of women who were sharing the same journey. This is something I wish I had to this day, and something I hope to someday change (but that’s a topic for another day).
Once I muddled through the terminology of surrogacy, I came to learn about the insane discrepancies in surrogacy law from state to state. Surrogacy is a fairly new practice, and what is legal in one state is probably not in the next. I could write a whole post on this alone, but what it comes down to is that many families have to look outside of their own state for a carrier due to some of the strict laws against surrogacy in our country. Thankfully, Massachusetts is one of the most surrogacy-friendly states in the US. Many families seek carriers who live in more liberal areas, so I discovered that I could potentially be carrying for a couple in another state, or even another country. During this early stage of my surrogacy process, I decided I wanted to carry for someone locally. I knew that I wanted a family I could connect with. I wanted them to be able to come to doctor appointments with me, maybe an ultrasound, and to potentially grow a connection with them. This was probably the most important decision I made, and there were plenty of decisions to think about.
You would be surprised how many things you have to decide early on. In a way, you have to define yourself as a surrogate. There are opinions and beliefs you have to prepare and mold for yourself that a surrogacy agency will also ask about. Would you carry for an older couple? Would you carry for a same-sex couple? Would you terminate the pregnancy if your health were at risk? Would you terminate if the baby’s health were at risk? Would you reduce in the case of multiples? Would you carry multiples? A lot to think about, clearly, and I did think about all of it. But for me, it came down to one thing—those were mostly all questions for the parents. Yes, it was my body carrying the baby, but it was their baby. I decided pretty quickly that I didn’t really care about age, sexual orientation, or any of that. I also decided my role would be carrier, not parent. The only thing I wanted was to make a difference, to make a connection, to bring a life to a deserving family.
Once I made that decision, it didn’t seem all that overwhelming anymore.