My Thoughts on Surrogacy

I can’t believe that sweet little Knox was born 11 weeks ago already! The time is flying by and I often forget that I just had a baby since I don’t have a newborn around!

I wanted to write a post for you guys to hear my thoughts on surrogacy now that it’s been a few months and I’ve had time to process it more.

Here’s the short version: Surrogacy was AWESOME. If you want to hear the long version, read on. ūüôā

Being a surrogate¬†was such an amazing experience¬†and I really loved it. Before even starting the process of becoming a surrogate the part I was most unsure about was how I would feel after the baby was born. Of course I¬†prepared myself as much as I could and thought I would be ok but how do you really know how you’ll feel after you grow a baby that is not yours inside your womb for 9 months and then one day head home from the hospital without them? Amazingly, it was not at all hard for me to come home and recover post-partum¬†without a baby. I did not fee like I wanted to bring Knox home. I did not feel like he was mine. I did not feel attached to him like I did my own children. I knew from the very beginning that he was not mine and I worked hard at mentally preparing myself to leave the hospital empty handed. Of course, I’m sure that Knox will always hold a special place in my heart but he does so as the children of my close friends and siblings do, not as if he were my own child. I honestly left the hospital with so much joy because I was just so incredibly happy for Ben and Kristen to finally have their baby boy in their arms. From the very beginning I knew why I was doing this and what the end result would be. When Knox was born, it was so rewarding to finally see the culmination of all the years of waiting (for Ben and Kristen), the weeks of paperwork, testing, and injections, the months of pregnancy and pre-natal visits, and the hours of labor. Sweet little Knox was finally here!

Recovering without a newborn was easier but I am pumping my milk to donate to a milk bank and so I am still up in the middle of the night pumping and I am not getting much sleep even without a baby to wake me up. =) ¬†I did not have any post-partum anxiety or depression to deal with so that was good. I really just went back to life as usual – with a greater sense of fulfillment for what I had just done! I am feeling all back to normal – with just a few reminders that I recently had a baby (like a little extra tummy pudge. ūüėČ )

Many people have asked how the kids have handled everything and the answer is that they have done amazingly well. The transition from Knox being in my belly to going home with his family went SO smoothly for them. They never once asked why we didn’t keep him or if he was their brother or where he went or anything like that! We were very open and honest with them from the beginning that this was not their brother and that he would not be joining our family.¬†We talked a lot about surrogacy in terms they could understand. They got to know Ben and Kristen throughout the process and they knew that they were¬†Knox’s parents and that he would be going to live with them. When the kids came to visit Knox in the hospital after he was born they never thought he was our baby or that he would be coming home with us. It’s been so amazing to me how they have adjusted to everything. In their minds what I did as a surrogate was normal and they don’t think anything weird about it! When I get pictures of Knox from his parents I will show the kids and they will say “ooooh, he’s sooo cute” and there is no hint¬†of thinking or wishing that he should be ours. I think that kids take so many of their cues from adults as to how to respond in certain situations and¬†because Drew and I sailed smoothly through the whole process they were able to as well.

It was very rewarding to be a surrogate. It left me feeling so proud and happy that I was able to help somebody in an incredible way. I had a great experience from start to finish and I would definitely do it again! (I’ve just got to decide if I want to be pregnant again… ūüėČ ) For now I am on to my next adventure which is that of a full time exclusive pumper. After having Knox I wanted to be able to do something with my breast milk because I knew that in the past I had been a very large producer and I knew my milk could go to babies in need if I was willing to pump it. I knew how badly I had wanted Eloise to receive breast milk and how hard I worked to induce lactation in order to breastfeed her (and what a rewarding experience that was for me) so I couldn’t bear not to offer my milk (that would come so easily compared to inducing lactation!) to babies in need. ¬†I found a milk bank that works exclusively with surrogates who are willing to donate¬†their milk to help sick, premature babies. It has been a learning curve as I figure out how to fit pumping into my daily routine. I currently produce 85 ounces a day and pump every 2-3 hours,¬†including in the middle of the night. Between pumping, bagging and freezing my milk, and STRICTLY washing and sanitizing all my pump parts (I have to be very careful about contamination since my milk is going to micro-preemies!), I calculated that I spend almost 8 hours a day collecting my milk! It’s like a full time job but I love being able to¬†continue helping to grow the babies of others!

Advertisements

The Birth of Knox

I am so excited to announce that Knox Marshall Berry made his grand entrance into this world on Friday, February 24th at 4:59 pm! He is the cutest, chunkiest little guy and everyone is doing well! ‚̧

img_1468

On February 23 I had gone in for my 40 week appointment and had high blood pressure so it was decided that we would induce the next day. I was very nervous about an induction as I knew that my body was not showing any signs of being ready for delivery. I was only dilated to a 1 and 50% effaced so I was afraid that the induction process would be long and difficult. We checked into the hospital Thursday evening and tried Cervadil to ripen my cervix overnight but saw¬†no change from that so that was also discouraging! But thankfully when we started the official induction on Friday my body responded well to just a small amount of pitocin which dilated me to a 3 in just a few hours, my doctor broke my water and after that things progressed very quickly! It wasn’t long before it was time to push!

Doctors and nurses thought the pushing would be quick and easy with this being my third baby but Knox had other ideas. This little guy had a big head and broad shoulders and we also think he was posterier for most of the labor which made pushing him out a long, tiring process. Once his head finally came out one of his shoulders got stuck under my pubic bone which created a very scary scenario. He was only stuck for about 50 seconds but it seemed like forever! With the help of the vacuum, a nurse, and some intense pushing, I finally got him out! When he was born he was rushed off to the NICU due to the difficult delivery.

Thankfully Knox just spent one night in the NICU and was released to his mommy and daddy’s room the next day. He was a little champ and was doing great! I rested and recovered in my room and the hospital gave Ben and Kristen their own room nearby with Knox. It was perfect!

img_1451
First picture with Mommy and Daddy. ‚̧

The kids were able to come to the hospital to see Knox on Saturday and that was such a great experience for them. They LOVED seeing him and it really helped them to understand the situation when they saw him with his mom and dad.

img_1469
The whole crew minus Knox’s big brother Blake.
img_1463
We joked that we headed home from the hospital with three of the world’s biggest babies. Ha! =)
img_1455
Holding Knox for the first time. He’s such a doll baby!! Look at that perfect little face!
img_1458
Me and Kristen. ‚̧

Knox and I were both released from the hospital on Sunday and I got to go home to my sweet babies and the Berry’s traveled home to their home state with their sweet baby.

So far I have been doing really well emotionally processing the surrogacy. I did a really good job of separating myself emotionally from Knox during the pregnancy. The mind is a powerful thing and I really worked the whole pregnancy to remember this was not my baby and I would not be coming home with a baby! When I held Knox¬†in the hospital I really felt like I had just gone to visit a friend’s baby. I didn’t feel any attachment at all. It was amazing really! The kids have been doing really well too; I think we did a good job of preparing them and talking things through with them. They haven’t seemed bothered by it at all – they are just glad to have mommy back to themselves.

I am pumping for Knox and sending the Berry’s¬†my breast milk -which I am so happy about! Because of that, the only thing this whole process had made me miss so far is nursing. I really loved nursing my babies so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic about that! =)

Being a surrogate has been an amazing and rewarding experience and I feel so much joy at having helped bring little Knox into this world. ‚̧

IMG_2512.JPG
My favorite picture of all! I love how surrogacy joined our two families together!

Surrogacy Bump Date: 35 Weeks!

Oh my! The final countdown has begun! Thirty-five weeks!! This week was extra special because Knox’s Mommy and Daddy and Big Brother got to come down to Florida! They came for my¬†35 week OB appointment and ultrasound. We got to see sweet little Knox on ultrasound again and everything is looking perfect! He has cute chubby cheeks and even has hair on his head already! He kept pursing his lips together as if he were blowing a little kiss to his Mommy! And, as usual, he was very shy and kept putting his hands up in front of his face. =) Won’t be long now until he’s here!!

img_2287
We had such a great visit with Ben, Kristen and Blake! Knox doesn’t know how lucky he is to have such a great family!

 

How far along: 35 weeks

Size of baby:¬†Baby doesn’t have much room to maneuver now that he’s over 18 inches long and about 5 1/2 – 6 pounds. He’s about the size of a honeydew melon. Most of his basic physical development is now complete. He’ll spend the next few weeks putting on weight.

week35honeydew_424x302

 

Stretch marks: None! (Well except for the little tiny one that I got right above my belly button right before Olive was born!)

Gender: It’s a sweet baby BOY!!

Movement:¬†Lots of movement, especially at night once I get the kids down and actually have a few minutes to sit down! That’s when he likes to wake up and play! Ben and Kristen bought me a pair of Belly Buds last month and Knox loves them! I just stick the speakers on my belly and connect them to my phone and Knox listens to messages and songs that his family has recorded for him. I LOVE that he is hearing their voices on a daily basis and hope that it will help him to recognize them when he is born.

IMG_1011.JPG
Knox listening to the Belly Buds!

Sleep:¬†Not sleeping the best. Starting to get a little uncomfortable. I’ve started sleeping with a pillow underneath my belly and that seems to help. I have to go to the bathroom multiple times a night so I don’t get many consecutive hours of sleep.

Cravings: No cravings. Boring, I know, but I have never really had cravings in any of my pregnancies.

What I am looking forward to:¬†This week my goal is to get my hospital bag packed and ready to go! Still have a couple of things I need to buy for the hospital and afterwards so working on getting those things checked off my list. Also we’re planning¬†who will watch the kids while we’re in the hospital and working out all those fun details.

Symptoms:¬†Starting to feel my energy drain as I get closer and closer to the finish line.¬†Drew keeps reminding me to “rest not nest” and I really am trying to follow his advice. It’s hard because the nesting instinct comes on strong! Even though I am not preparing to bring a baby home I still have several things around the house that I’d like done before I have the baby. I’ve been able to get several things done but now I can feel my energy and motivation waning¬†as I enter these final weeks.

35-weeksedit
35 Weeks!!!

 

The Third Trimester and a 3 Hr Glucose Test – Surrogacy Bump Date: 28 Weeks!

Hello third trimester!! It feels so good to be here! The third trimester brings a lot of great things like…. the birth of baby Knox! However the third trimester also brings some not so great things like a bigger and bigger belly which causes more aches and pains, the return of the tiredness felt in the first trimester, and…. the dreaded 1 hour glucose test.

Some of you may remember that I passed my 1 hour glucose test with Isaiah but failed it with Olive and so had to take the 3 hour. It was a terrible experience which you can read more about here. I ended up passing my 3 hour test with Olive but I really did not want to repeat that experience again so was hoping to pass the 1 hour again this time. No such luck. I failed it again and had to take the 3 hour. Thankfully this time I had a much better experience! Although it wasn’t the most fun thing in the world, I didn’t get as shaky and nauseous as I did last time and I didn’t feel like throwing up or passing out. I was actually pretty comfortable (albeit hungry from fasting for 12 hours) …. which then led me to worry that I was going to fail the 3 hour this time because I didn’t feel as bad as I did last time! =) However, I did pass my 3 hour – with flying colors! You are allowed to fail one of the blood draws and still pass the overall test however I not only passed all 4 draws but passed them with levels on the low end of normal so not even a tiny bit of concern of gestational diabetes! Wahoo!!

How far along: 28 weeks

Size of baby: By this week, baby weighs about 2 1/4 pounds (about the size of a large eggplant) and measures about 14.8 inches from the top of his head to his heels.

 

week-28-baby-size-comparison-eggplant

Stretch marks: None yet! I didn’t get any with my previous pregnancies so hoping it stays that way! =)

Morning Sickness: All gone! Feeling great now!!

Gender: It’s a sweet baby BOY!!

Movement: ALL THE TIME. This little boy is seriously going to be some kind of athlete. Oh and by the way, he LOVED that sugary glucose drink I had to drink for my glucose test. He was kicking and punching away for the whole 4 hours!!

Sleep:¬†Not getting much deep sleep as I’m either waking up to go to the bathroom or to try and get comfy. Having three children has taught me how to get by just fine on not the best night’s sleep so it’s all good. =)

Cravings: Pretty much anything sounds good as long as it’s in small portions! Knox is squishing and squeezing¬†everything in there, leaving little room for my stomach to expand so I have to eat little meals at a time. ūüėČ Also big meals or meals late at night give me terrible indigestion so trying to avoid that too!

What I am looking forward to: Ben and Kristen are coming down for our next ultrasound in December! We are so excited!! We are looking forward to seeing the little guy again and also getting a hospital tour and making sure everything is all set to go for delivery!

Symptoms: Sciatic¬†nerve pain has been a little better this week. I can feel myself wearing out more easily as I enter the third trimester though I can’t complain because I still have lots of energy and motivation so far! Thankfully still feeling good!

28-weeks
28 Weeks!! Third Trimester!

Surrogacy Bumpdate: 21 Weeks!

As of yesterday I am 21 weeks!¬†We are now officially closer to the end than the beginning! Wahoo! I love getting¬†closer and closer to Baby Knox joining the Berry family – I’m just so excited for them!

How far along: 21 weeks

Size of baby: Baby Knox now weighs about three-quarters of a pound and is approximately 10 1/2 inches long ‚Äď about the length of a carrot.

21-weeks-baby-size-comparison

Stretch marks: None yet!

Morning Sickness: All gone! Feeling great now!!

Gender:¬†It’s a sweet baby BOY!!

Movement: I feel more and more movement each day. You can now see and feel Baby Knox’s kicks from the outside which is fun! He’s a little soccer player!

Sleep:¬†Not able to sleep in (not that my kids give me the option anyways!)¬†and I wake up a couple times to go to the bathroom but can’t complain yet. Still sleeping well for now!

Cravings:¬†No cravings really. I didn’t really crave much with my first two pregnancies either though so I’m not surprised. I did want more sweet things in the beginning with Olive and more salty/carby things with Isaiah and now Knox but after that first trimester passes and I start to feel better it’s usually just back to normal eating for me!

Symptoms: Just cruising along in the second trimester. No big belly yet to get in the way and I’ve got so much energy. Loving it!!

img_1590
21 Weeks!

Surrogacy Bump Date: 18 Weeks

Wahoo! We are cruising right along! 18 weeks today! Baby Berry is growing and growing and we are thankful for a healthy and uneventful pregnancy so far!

How far along: 18 weeks

Size of baby: Head to rump, baby is about 5 1/2 inches long, and weighs almost 7 ounces (about the size of a sweet potato).

image-of-two-whole-sweet-potatoes

Stretch marks: None yet!

Morning Sickness: I stopped wearing my sea bands about a week ago and and am feeling pretty good without them! Still on Diclegis but am hoping to stop that soon too. It feels good to be feeling better and have more energy now!

Gender: We don’t know yet! =) Ben and Kristen are coming down for our 19 week ultrasound next week where we will (if baby cooperates) be able to find out if Baby Berry is a boy or a girl!

Movement: I am feeling lots of wiggles and kicks. I haven’t been able to feel them from the outside yet but probably will be able to soon!

Sleep:¬†Sleeping pretty well for now! I usually struggle with mild insomnia when I’m pregnant but the Diclegis makes me sleepy so for now I am sleeping well. We’ll see how it goes when I go off of it!

Cravings: No notable cravings right now. Just feeling pretty normal and enjoying the fact that I can eat normally again and not feel nauseous all day!

What I am looking forward to: Ben and Kristen are coming down next week for our 19 week appointment where we will have the anatomy scan ultrasound. Hoping and praying all looks good with baby! I’m looking forward to seeing them and the ultrasound!!

Symptoms: My belly is starting to pop out more and more!¬†I’m still wearing regular clothes and my belly is still hidden underneath most things that I wear. But it won’t be long before I have to pull out the maternity clothes I’m sure!

fullsizerender-8
18 Weeks!

Surrogacy Bump Date: 15 Weeks

Fifteen weeks! Wahoo! It feels so good to be in the second trimester where I have more energy and am starting to feel less morning sickness.

In some ways it feels like I have been pregnant forever! I think it is because I’ve never before experienced a pregnancy through IVF where you know several weeks beforehand when the transfer will be, you know exactly how old the embryo is and exactly what day you became pregnant. You also get a blood test done to confirm pregnancy at around 9 days past the transfer so you don’t have to wait long (though it feels like forever!) to find out!¬†It’s a¬†new experience for me as I always had to do things the slow, agonizing way and wait to confirm pregnancy when it would show up on an at home pregnancy test!

But in other ways it feels like time is flying by and I can’t believe I’m already 4 months pregnant! Things have been so busy the last few weeks with the kids starting school and¬†I have been preoccupied. I had to look down at my planner to make sure I really did turn 15 weeks on Thursday! =)

How far along: 15 weeks

Size of baby: Baby now measures about 4 inches long, crown to rump, and weighs in at about 2 1/2 ounces (about the size of an apple).

pregnancy-week-15-lung-development_square

Stretch marks: None yet!

Morning Sickness:¬†I was very nauseous during the first trimester. I only threw up once but was always feeling like I was going to. It’s really so awful!! The last few days¬†I have been feeling much better and I hope that I continue to feel better and better each day. I am on an anti-nausea medicine that hopefully I’ll be feeling well enough to stop soon. I’ve also been wearing sea bands constantly for the past few months and I really do think they have helped a lot!

Gender: We don’t know yet! =) Ben and Kristen are coming down for our 19 week ultrasound where we will (if baby cooperates) be able to find out if Baby Berry is a boy or a girl!

Movement: Started feeling little wiggles around 13 weeks and now at 15 weeks I am feeling bigger/stronger kicks.

Sleep:¬†Sleeping just fine now. It’s waking up that’s the problem. ūüėČ Diclegis, the medicine that I’m on for morning sickness, is basically the equivalent of vitamin b6 and Unisom. I take it at night before I go to bed and it makes me very sleepy and it’s hard to wake up in the morning. But hey, it helps me feel less nausea throughout the day so it’s worth it!

Cravings:¬†The first trimester found me craving carbs and salty snacks because that is what helped my morning sickness. Baked potatoes, homemade macaroni and cheese, pickles, pretzels….you get the idea. Also pretty much anything that I did not cook sounded good to me. I had a hard time cooking dinner for the¬†family and we ate out or ordered in a lot! Now that I am feeling better and can actually cook healthy meals I’m eating a much more well balanced diet. I actually feel like eating fruits and vegetables again so I’m grateful for that. It’s so hard to eat healthy when almost everything healthy makes you want to vomit!

What I miss:¬†Nothing yet…. Just enjoying this journey through the miracle of surrogacy!! So excited for this baby to join Ben and Kristen¬†and Big Brother¬†in their loving home. I¬†love helping this dream come true for them!

Symptoms: No terrible symptoms to speak of yet. Just the morning sickness which seems to be fading. Not showing too much yet, my clothes are still pretty much hiding the little bump I have! =)

FullSizeRender (6).jpg
15 weeks!

Surrogacy Update!

Hey everyone! So glad you’ve stopped by. I have THREE very special people I’d like to introduce on the blog today. But¬†first I need to give you a little update on my surrogacy journey.

In case you missed my announcement back in April, after several years of thought, research, and prayer I have decided to become a gestational surrogate! The process has taken several months and the last time I updated here on the blog we finally had a transfer date in sight! Let me fill you in on what has happened since then.

The embryo transfer was in early June. The intended parents have their embryos stored in their home state so Drew and I traveled there for the transfer (We counted it as a mini-vacation. No kids! Woot! Woot!). Everything went perfectly. We transferred one embryo and the transfer went smooth with no issues. We had a good visit with the intended parents and we even had time to explore a little bit of their home state. We left feeling cautiously optimistic about the outcome!!

During the week after the transfer, I resisted the urge to take an at home pregnancy test¬†although I was dying to know if the transfer¬†had worked or not. Failed transfers are not uncommon in IVF and we knew that there was a chance we would have to try for a second or even third transfer. But I didn’t want to get a false positive or negative from an at home pregnancy test so I waited for my first beta draw. Nine days after the transfer was my first blood test. I was feeling like I was pregnant (no symptoms to speak of, just a gut feeling!) and I was¬†pretty positive that the blood test would come back with good news! I had my blood drawn at 8:30 in the morning and the nurse didn’t call me until almost 3 in the afternoon with the results. Torture!! But the results were worth the wait. I’M PREGNANT!!! Second beta levels a few days later also looked good as my levels continued to rise appropriately. The intended parents were thrilled and we all rejoiced at the good news!!

I had my first ultrasound at almost 7 weeks. Although the parents were not able to be at it, I was able to facetime the appointment with the intended mother which helped! At that ultrasound we saw one perfect little heart beating away!! Wahoo!!

I was able to stop my progesterone injections at exactly 9 weeks! Although I was getting used to them and getting pretty good at minimizing the soreness afterwards (and Drew was getting to be a pro at giving them to me!) it was very nice not to have to worry about those shots any more. =) I was able to stop my oral/vaginal meds a week later, so by 10 weeks I was med free!!

I was released from the fertility clinic that had been monitoring me thus far and at 9 weeks I had my first OB appointment. There was another ultrasound  at this appointment and again everything looked great and we saw a healthy baby with a strong heart beat!!

I am now 13 weeks pregnant and yesterday my sweet intended parents were able to come to my OB appointment with me!! They were able to see their little peanut on an ultrasound in person for the first time which was so special for them. The appointment went great, baby is looking perfect in every way, and so far all is going well. =)

We had such a great time visiting with the intended parents and they have given me permission to introduce them to you on my blog! Their names are Ben and Kristen and they are the sweetest couple! Here are a few pictures of us from yesterday:

IMG_1023
Believe it or not, this was the first and ONLY picture we took of all of us (not counting our goofy pose)! Everyone was looking and smiling and looked good after just one shot! What are the odds? I’m feeling some hope for our family pictures that we’re getting done next month… Maybe they’ll turn out after all!¬†
IMG_1027
Isaiah requested a silly face shot and Ben and Kristen got to see the true side of our crazy family!
IMG_1036
No, we are not sisters but I love how we look like we could be! 

There is also one more person I’d like to introduce you to…This little person is the star of the show! Drum roll please………..Meet Baby Berry!!

14022143_10101100208894918_3587877407002669859_n

Look how relaxed¬†he/she looks in there! All comfy and cozy without a care in the world! Our hope and prayer is that this little peanut will continue to stay safe and sound in my belly for the next 6 months until he/she is big enough to go home with his/her Mommy and Daddy! ‚̧¬†We would love for you to pray with us for a continued healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby!

Our next big appointment is our 19 week appointment where we will find out if baby is a boy or a girl! Stayed tuned! =)

Medicine, Injections and a Transfer Date!

I have some exciting news! I have started my medications and am one step further in my surrogacy journey!

If any of you have gone through the IVF process before you know that it almost always requires medication. Lots of medication. Many pills and many injections.

Last week I started the pills part of the medication protocol. Pretty easy to remember to take a handful of pills every day so that part is not so bad. But yesterday¬†evening I started my progesterone …. And progesterone needs to be injected. In my butt.

Progesterone is in oil so it’s thick and the needle for it is on the larger side. Oh, and did I mention that my husband has a great fear of needles (and is rarely home at my injection time) and that I’ll be doing most of these myself? Sounds like fun, right? ūüėČ

Progesterone needs to be administered into your deep muscle tissue so the needle needs to go all the way in. The best place to administer it is in the upper, outer quadrant of the butt/hip. The process I followed was ice the spot, don’t think about what I am about to do, try to control my shaking hand, try not to think about what I’m about to do, jab it in without thinking about what I am doing to myself, slowly push the medication into my body (remember it’s in oil so this stuff moves slowly!), remove the needle, try not to think about what I just did, heat the spot with a heating pad, sit down, and finally try not to think about the fact that I have to do it all again tomorrow. ūüôā

I will have to be on this medication for several weeks so I had better get used to it! The spot I put it in yesterday¬†evening is pretty sore so¬†tonight I may experiment with different icing/heating techniques and see what works and also try a slightly different spot on my butt to see if I can find a spot that’s higher up and less painful afterwards. It really didn’t hurt too bad going in, it’s just sore now!

Although the medication is not too fun, we do have something fun coming up in the future… we have a transfer date! Next week is transfer week! Drew will be flying with me to the state where the intended parents live and Drew’s parents will be watching the kids for us while we’re gone. I would love for you all to pray with me that this first transfer would be successful and that we would soon find out a little¬†baby is on the way for this sweet couple. ‚̧

IMG_7383
Here’s my medication and the needles I need to draw up and administer it. Progesterone is an intramuscular medication which means the needle needs to be inserted ALL the way in so that the medicine can get down into the deep muscle tissue.
IMG_7377
Don’t worry. This big honker is just the needle used to draw up the medication out of the vile. The needle to administer it is (slightly) smaller.
IMG_7378
The needle used to administer the progesterone.

The Process of Becoming a Surrogate

Many women who have been considering becoming a surrogate don’t know where to start. I spent over 5 years contemplating and praying about becoming a surrogate and did¬†a little research here and there along the way and I still felt unsure and overwhelmed when I finally made the decision to become a surrogate!

The surrogacy process is not a quick one. Although my process has gone smoothly¬†it has still been 7 months since I applied and I am just now at¬†the Medications/Calendar stage. It’s a “hurry up and wait” process, which I’m familiar with from our adoption! =)

Below I’ve listed out the steps in the process per my particular agency. Each agency will vary a little bit on procedures but this is generally how the process goes for a surrogate using an agency.

Initial Application

The first step to being considered as a surrogate candidate is to complete the initial screening application. You will receive an e-mail response in 1-2 business days whether you are approved or denied. This first step is to weed out people that the agency knows would not be allowed to be surrogates because of medical reasons or other life circumstances.

Surrogate Profile

Once your initial application is approved you need to complete a full surrogate profile and submit photos. This is a long, detailed application where you have to answer many questions and can even write a letter to prospective intended parents. This is the part of the process where you have to make decisions such as whether or not you would be willing to carry a baby for a gay couple, an out of state couple, a singe person, etc. You also need to make decisions about whether or not you are willing to carry multiples and how you feel about termination/reduction. Being open, honest and detailed with your profile responses is very important. The agency takes great pride in matching surrogates with intended parents that have similar responses. As a pro-life Christian I obviously had some preferences in these areas and the agency was very great at not questioning my choices and not pushing me to change. And I was able to be matched with a family who shares my convictions!

Phone Consultation

After your profile is reviewed, your Surrogate Case Manager will have a brief phone meeting with you to go over your profile and answer any questions you have regarding the process. She will also ask you to get in touch with your OB’s office to have copies of your prenatal, delivery and postpartum records as well as a recent Pap sent to the agency.

OB Records

Once the agency receives your prenatal, delivery, and postpartum records for each pregnancy their staff nurses will review and approve them. This is an important piece of the puzzle because the fertility clinics base their approval or denial of a candidate on these records. Some women may not be able to be a surrogate because of history of repeat¬†miscarriages, gestational diabetes, or other pregnancy related health issues. Questions about any pregnancy related health issues will be asked in the initial application to help you know from the beginning whether or not you will be able to continue in the process. So, if you have been honest, OB records at this point shouldn’t cause any problems.

In-Home Consultation

Once your OB records have been approved the agency will send a social worker to your home for a casual meeting with you and your spouse to go over the paperwork. Since we live in a different State than my agency we were able to do a Skype interview. Topics to be discussed are: commitment, medication, finances, support, your concerns, travel, meetings, and what is expected of you and your intended parents.

Criminal Clearance

The agency will run a criminal background check for both you and your spouse, if applicable. The reporting covers the last 7 years.

Psychological Screening

A comprehensive evaluation of you and your spouse will be scheduled with a licensed psychologist to determine if you’re a good candidate for surrogacy. Personality testing will also be done at this time. The psychologist will give his/her recommendation to the agency about whether or not you should be allowed to continue the process.

Insurance Review

Your insurance policy will be reviewed by a licensed insurance agent to determine if surrogacy is covered within your medical benefits. If there is an exclusion, the insurance agent will schedule a consultation with you to set up a new medical policy that will cover a surrogate pregnancy.

Available Surrogate Roster

Once the agency receives criminal and psychological clearance and has completed the insurance review you are officially screened and able to be matched! Your profile, with limited information, will be added to the available surrogate roster. This means that your profile will be available for intended parents to search and decide if they would like to meet you!

Match Meeting

When intended parents show an interest in your profile you will be contacted by your case manager and have an opportunity to review the intended parents’ profile before you decide to meet with them. You will always have the choice to select the intended parents you wish to help. The case manager will schedule and facilitate the match meeting between you and the intended parents. Many matches are made with couples who live in another state so the meeting is over the phone. When the meeting is over, the case manager will ask you to notify her of your decision within 24 hours. If all parties agree to move forward, the match is made and the journey begins!

Medical Screening

A comprehensive physical evaluation, including toxicology screen, infectious disease testing and ultrasound will be performed at the intended parents’ fertility clinic. If their clinic is out of state all travel expenses will be paid for. Your spouse will also be required to have blood tests done.

Legal Consultation

Once the match is made the agency will assign you a lawyer and the intended parents will also hire a lawyer. The attorney will go over your legal contract with you and advise you of your contractual rights and obligations. A contract is important to make sure that all parties are comfortable with what is expected and are protected. As soon as the contract is finalized you can begin medication!

Medications/Calendar

You will be put on a cycle calendar to start birth control pills and then hormone injections to prepare your body for the upcoming embryo transfer. Medication protocols may vary depending on the clinic you are working with. It is extremely important that the medications be taken exactly as instructed and on the appropriate days or it may disrupt the entire cycle! You will be instructed by your nurse exactly how to administer your injections. If you have a family member who will be giving you injections, they should also attend the injection training. If you are squeamish about shots this may not be the best for you! The medication part of the process requires you to give yourself a shot in the butt every day for up to 8 weeks depending on the fertility clinic! You will have multiple appointments for blood work and ultrasounds leading up to and following the embryo transfer. This is to ensure that your body is responding appropriately to the hormones necessary to support the pregnancy. These appointments will take place at a fertility clinic near you so you won’t have to travel to the intended parents’ fertility clinic.

Embryo Transfer

You will have the embryo transfer at the intended parents’ fertility clinic. The procedure is very simple and not painful. A few days of rest or mild activity afterwards is requested to give the embryo adequate opportunity to implant itself and start to grow.

Pregnancy Testing and Confirmation

About 7 days after transfer you will need to go to the local lab approved by the fertility clinic to have blood drawn. The clinic will inform you and your case manager of your hormone levels which indicate pregnancy. This is the day everyone has been waiting for! You will have repeat blood tests done at 9 days and sometimes again at 11 days after the transfer. The fertility clinic wants to see the hormone levels increasing with each test. If the numbers continue to rise, you will have an ultrasound to confirm a fetal heartbeat. You will have several monitoring ultrasounds at the clinic near you up until around 10 weeks of pregnancy. At that point, you will be released to visit your own OB for the duration of the pregnancy and several months later will hopefully deliver a healthy newborn baby for your intended parents. Your job as a surrogate is now done!