EDIT: Wow, thank you everyone for all the insightful and fun questions! I'm going to a Halloween party now, but I'd still love to answer more. I'll be back here tomorrow morning EST to keeping responding, so feel free to keep the discussion going. Have a great Saturday night!
One year ago, an embryo belonging to a couple my surrogacy agency matched me with was implanted into my uterine lining, and three months ago, I gave birth to a baby that is not related to me genetically. It was an amazing experience, and it was surprisingly well paying. I would love to talk about it and answer any and (almost*) all questions!
*The couple I delivered the baby for has chosen to keep their use of a surrogate private, so I can't share any details that would reveal anything about them.
Was it hard to give up this baby that had been a part of you for 9 months?
Did/will you breastfeed at all?
Are you staying in touch with the couple at all? Is this a good thing for you?
Will they raise the kid to know they were born via surrogate?
Not hard at all. The couple I delivered for are wonderful people, and it makes me happy knowing that the baby I carried is going to get loving care from them.
I didn't breastfeed. Many surrogates will elect to pump, freeze, and ship breast milk, but I don't like pumping, so I didn't do this. I did pump a little while at the hospital, but after that, the baby was fed formula.
I stay in touch the mom through texting. I check in every now and then to see how she and the baby are doing.
Their current plan is to not let the child or anyone else know they used a surrogate, but that is rare. Most are open about surrogacy use. And I wonder if they will change their mind and tell the child years down the line. I hope they do!
How did this effect your day job? Did your day job offer maternity benefits? Were you allowed to take them?
If your day was more physical, were you given lighter duties?
I had to miss time occasionally at work for the prenatal appointments, but I have a remote job that gives me some flexibility in the hours I worked. I tried to schedule the appointments during my lunch break, and I could make up time by working a bit late as needed so that I wouldn't deplete my vacation time for surrogacy stuff.
I am a translator, so my job involves sitting at a desk at a computer. Very well suited to a tired pregnant woman with low energy!
I didn't qualify for maternity benefits. (Some surrogates do qualify at their companies, but the employee handbook at my company said you have to be a caregiver for the baby in order to get maternity leave.) I could have taken unpaid time off through FMLA, but the sick time I'd accumulated was all I needed for recovery because I didn't have any complications from the delivery.
Did you feel any attachment to the baby? Was it hard to 'give it away'? Will you get to see it? Do you want to see it? How much money did you make? Did you pay for your own pregnancy expenses? How did your family (and partner if you have one) react?
Not a lot of attachment. Even when I had my own baby 4 years ago, I wasn't the type to feel that strong bond right away; it took a couple of weeks. So I felt confident going into the surrogacy that I would have little to no sadness "giving" her away.
As long as the couple wants to keep their use of a surrogate private, visits are out, but I do get pics! I'd love to visit sometime down the line, though, if they decide to open up about the surrogacy.
The total cash compensation came to around $50,000, and any pregnancy-related expenses were all covered by the intended parents. I didn't even have to use my own insurance; they paid for a health insurance for me that is specifically for surrogates.
My partner was extremely supportive throughout the entire process. We just started dating around the time I was getting the embryo transfer, so it was a... unique... way to begin a relationship!
Besides the regular pregnancy limitations, what new limitations or restrictions changed your life by being a surrogate? Did you have to change your diet or lifestyle at all to fit the needs/wants for their family/baby?
Ohhhh, that's a great question!
Once I was at about 30 weeks, my contract required me to stay within my state and within 50 miles of the hospital where I planned to deliver. That was especially restrictive because my boyfriend and I were long distance at the time, so it prevented me from driving to see him during the last two months of the pregnancy. He had to come visit me in order for us to see each other.
About a month ago, I moved to his state, and we live together now, but this move would have happened much sooner if not for the surrogacy. The state where he lives doesn't have surrogacy friendly laws, so my contract wouldn't have allowed me to live here.
Obviously, when you ran into people on the street, they automatically assumed it was your baby in there. How did you handle that situation? (I always back to Phoebe from Friends, “Oh, they’re not mine, they’re my brothers’.”)
Oh yes, there's something about a pregnant woman that seems to encourage strangers to ask questions and/or make personal comments. I usually just smiled and said thank you for the congratulations, or answered whatever question, without bothering to correct the assumption that it was my baby because it wasn't worth going into the details with every grocery store cashier who wants to ask me if it's my first, is it a boy or girl, etc etc. My boyfriend would always get a kick out of being congratulated when people would assume he's the father.
Did you meet and connect with the couple during the surrogacy process? Did they join you for things like doctor appointments? Did you join them for things like gender reveals, baby showers, etc.?
They don't live in my state, so there wasn't much face to face interaction. We had an initial meeting over a Skype video call, arranged by the surrogacy agency, to see if we felt like we were a good match.
I met them in person during my medical workup at their fertility clinic, and again at the embryo transfer. After that, they came to my state for the 20 week ultrasound, and then I saw them at the hospital for the delivery.
Some surrogates get to participate in the baby shower and etc., but that wasn't the case for us because of the distance and their decision to keep their use of a surrogate private.
When you gave birth did they bring the baby to you to hold? They normally do this so the mother can form a bond, but in your case I suppose they didn't want that? Did you form a bond? Were the genetic parents at the birth? Was it hard to give the baby away afterwards? Was the whole experience worth it?
The intended parents were in the delivery room when the baby came out, and the mother did skin to skin. I got to lie down and rest! I held the baby for the first time the next morning, and I felt more of a bond than I would have if it was any other baby, but not so strongly that I felt any difficulty giving them the baby. They are going to give that baby so much love! And yes, the experience was so worth it! The pregnancy was occasionally tough (though overall I had an easier time than many do), but it's a good feeling to have helped the couple become parents as they always wanted.
What did this do to your personal love life? What about life goals in general, did this get in the way?
Surprisingly, it was an overall positive for my personal love life. I had just started dating my current boyfriend about a month before the embryo transfer. Once it was clear we were going to be dating seriously, I told him all about my plan to be a surrogate, and he surprised me by telling me that his daughter had been carried and delivered by a surrogate as well! It was an incredible coincidence that we really bonded over.
It didn't get in the way of life goals. The opposite, actually - I used the payments to put my daughter in a Montessori preschool, pay off my student loans, and... a trip to Disneyworld. :)
Was there prenatal testing for any particular conditions, such as Down Syndrome? If a test had come back positive, how would that have been handled - is that something negotiated in the contract with the bio-parents?
The embryos are tested, and the healthiest one is selected for the implantation. During the pregnancy, the screenings are the same as for regular pregnancies.
If there had been a problem with the fetus, the parents could have elected to terminate the pregnancy. This sort of thing is discussed prior to a surrogate being matched to the parents, because obviously a surrogate can not be forced to abort against her will. During the matching process, I told the agency I would agree to abort if that was the parents' wish. If I had been against abortion, they would have matched me with parents who were also against abortion.
This is a harsh question- but if for some reason the pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage, was there a clause that you’d still get some sort of compensation for the time you did spend carrying?
That's a great question. The agency sent me my compensation once a month. Had I miscarried, I would have been allowed to keep the monthly payments I'd received up to that point, but there wouldn't be additional payments.
How did you explain the pregnancy to your daughter?
I told her I know someone who really wants to be a mommy, and I was making a baby to give her so she could be a mommy.
(Just in case a dad is thinking about chiming in to point out that I didn't mention the father, I should explain that my daughter's father isn't in her life, so she didn't have much of a concept of a "daddy" at that point in her life. I figured the "mommy" explanation would make the most sense to her.)
Was this your idea or something both you and your boyfriend thought of? How did you discuss and agree to do this with your boyfriend?
Did your contract stipulate that you had to remain in a monogamous relationship, did it place restrictions on your sex life (I mean for health reasons, not what you do privately in your bedroom)?
It was my idea, something I'd been wanting to do for years. I actually met my boyfriend after I'd already started the application process, so all he had to agree to was to continue dating me after I told him I was going to be a surrogate. Thankfully he chose to stay. :)
My contract didn't restrict anything in my romantic life or sex life, but it did require me to disclose that I was dating someone, and my boyfriend had to go through a background test, a drug test, and an STD test, although I'm not sure what the result would have been had he failed any of those.
Is it easier to become a surrogate than to donate eggs? I dont ever want kids of my own so I figured I'd donate my eggs to someone who would appreciate them and I didnt even make it from the online questionnaire to the in person interview :|
I think the selection requirements for surrogacy are more restrictive. You have to have had at least one successful pregnancy and there are age and BMI maximums and etc. Most who apply don’t qualify for one reason or another.
I’ve been curious about becoming a surrogate, but in Canada you can’t charge money to be a surrogate, you’re only reimbursed for actual expenses, which is basically nothing because we have universal health care. Would you have still become a surrogate for strangers in that situation?
Honestly, probably not. While the money wasn't my only motivation, it was certainly a crucial one to convince me to go through the IVF process, pregnancy, delivery, and recovery.
Sorry to be a negative Nancy but I have a few questions.
Is there any liability coverage if you weren’t able to carry to term?
What about liability coverage if the pregnancy caused complications resulting in your death? Or is that up to you to get term life insurance?
What about liability coverage for complications during the pregnancy that would have prevented you from conceiving or maintaining a future pregnancy?
If I wasn't able to carry to term, the compensation payments would have stopped at that point, but I wouldn't have been required to pay back the amount I'd been compensated up to that point, so no need for liability coverage in that case.
Yes, the intended parents purchased a life insurance plan for me for the duration of the surrogacy in case of my death. I had my daughter as the beneficiary.
There are set payments for loss of uterine function or a hysterectomy.
Do you have to pay the same tax rate on this as you would on a salery? I'm not from USA so i'm not familiar with tax laws
The compensation is taxed as if it was independent contractor earnings, so come next tax season I'm sure I will owe quite a bit.
How did it feel compared to how you gave birth the first time?
Much much easier and faster the second time. And recovery was fantastic because I got to sleep at nights instead of constantly being woken up by a hungry newborn!
I have been seriously considering becoming a surrogate but have been on the fence. My husband and I aren't sure if we can afford a second child, but could if I was a surrogate first. How did you explain to your child about the pregnancy? Do you get some maternity leave from your work? Thank you!
I told her I was making a baby for someone who wants to be a mommy. She was only 3 at the time, though, so I don't think she understood well. (And she didn't care anyway, haha.) I wasn't able to qualify for my company's maternity leave, but I know other surrogates who have.
Best of luck if you decide to go through with it! Feel free to PM me down the line if you have questions about the process. :)
Apart from compensation, what motivated you to do this process? I’m gay and am contemplating using a surrogate some day and would be curious if I’m creating a massive pain for someone or if they came at the process with more of a philosophical motivation for signing up for it. (Maybe it’s both hehe)
Hmm, maybe both? Helping someone who wants a child and bringing into this world a wanted child who will receive lots of love were my motivation. But being pregnant is indeed a massive pain, literally and figuratively, so the financial compensation was needed to motivate me as well. ;)
Did the couple pay for your medical costs, including delivery and check ups before you have birth?
Yes, all medical costs were covered. I didn't even have to use my own health insurance; the parents purchased a policy in my name that covered all the pregnancy care and the delivery.
Have you ever thought about keeping the baby for yourself? That’s the biggest fear of the parents
Nope, I never felt the least temptation to keep it.
I think that's more an issue for private surrogate arrangements done outside of a surrogacy agency. When you go through an agency, they require you to have a water tight contract that would prevent a surrogate from trying to keep the baby.
My cousin can’t have kids. I’m considering offering my dusty uterus. She’d be a great mum, and I don’t think I’ll be using it for myself. Does that sound like a nuts idea?
Nope! Clear out that dust and go for it. :)
Do you know if someone can have a surrogate for their baby even tho the mother is in theory able to carry her own child to term?
I am extremely scared of pregnancy and childbirth and never ever want to be in that situation. But I am not completely against having a child, so now I am unsure if I would just be called selfish? I get that there's infertile and gay couples with a baby wish, and people who are not able to carry due to medical reasons. I even deem them to be more important than me.
I believe so, but someone in that situation might have to wait on the wait list a bit longer than others in order to be matched with a surrogate.
How much did you get paid?
There were some other things like travel and boarding reimbursement, but the total cash compensation came to around $50,000.
To what extent were lawyers involved in the process?
Lawyers were involved at the stage of the journey after my medical testing but before the actual embryo transfer.
Both sides (the parents and me) had their own lawyer. The parents paid for both of the lawyers.
Once the surrogacy contract was finalized and signed, the legal stage of the journey was complete.
Even though the baby isn't yours, does it still have the increased risks associated with a pregnancy if you are older than "normal", like 35-40 years old?
Ohhh, that's an interesting question. I'm actually not sure! I do know that surrogacy agencies typically have a cutoff age of 39, so maybe?
Just curious when giving birth to a surrogate. Walk us through the hospital birthing process. Hospital is notified that you are a surrogate?How do they know who the parents are or does it even matter?
Yes, the hospital is notified. The intended parents and I went to the hospital in advance, when I was around 20 weeks, to take a tour and preregister. The parents also filled out some paperwork in advance for the birth certificate so that both of their names, and not my name, would be on it.
Other than that, the actual hospital birthing process was like any other, with the only difference being that the baby was given to them after being delivered instead of being given to the woman who just pushed it out.
This might be rather harsh, but what if the child ended up being born with any developmental disorders such as cleft palate or Down syndrome? Would that have affected things? Cheers for doing this very interesting AMA & for being a great person!
No, my role and compensation are the same regardless of the outcome of the child, assuming I carry the baby to term. The embryo is tested for genetic disorders prior to implantation.
Do you feel you got treated any differently by hospital staff when they found out you’re a surrogate?
No, just occasional awkward moments when they would refer to the baby as mine or call me the mother out of habit.
So was your egg used or was the mother's (the one that will be raising the child) egg fertilized then implanted in you? If it was yours, did you have to provide family history health info for the parents to provide the best care for their child?
Also, were there drug tests during the pregnancy? I'm not saying you would ever do this, but how do they prevent a surrogate from drinking alcohol / smoking etc. ?
It was an embryo made from the mother's egg fertilized by the father's sperm, so genetically it was 100% theirs. Meanwhile, I was on medication (basically a form of birth control) that kept me from ovulating.
A drug test was part of my medical workup. My contract also stated that I could be randomly tested at any point.
How does being a surrogate differ from a standard pregnancy? I'm imagining the extra hassle would be having to inject yourself with hormones for like a month, then get the little embryo thing implanted. Beyond that, would it be fairly similar to a standard pregnancy? Just with like extra parents involved, and you give the kids to someone else when it's done baking. I've had a couple fairly easy pregnancy experiences, and would totally be down to surrogate for some of my gay friends if my understanding is correct.
What's the hardest thing you had with it?
Yes, the daily self injection for the first couple months sucks. I got used to it, but the first few were really tough for me to do. I took some hormones orally and vaginally as well. While all these hormones are the same ones the body makes during pregnancy, I felt like they caused worse mood swings compared to my standard pregnancy. Once you get to stop the meds, though, there's no difference from a standard pregnancy. Even the prenatal care is the same - I just went to my regular OB/GYN.
It'd be awesome if you could be a surrogate for your friends! That would be such an amazing thing to do for them.
Were the parents bound by law to take the baby? I read about a case in Thailand where the Australian parents refused to accept one of twins because the child had Down’s Syndrome. Could that have happened to you?
No, the contract our lawyers prepared for us very clearly stated that they have full parental rights. If they didn't take the baby, they would face the same consequences as any other parent attempting to abandon a child.
Would you still have been paid the full amount had the embryo transfer failed?
I would have received some compensation, but not the full amount.
Are there rules when you are a surrogate ? Do they dictate what you eat or do ?
Not really. My contract only required me to abstain from drinking, smoking, or doing drugs and to follow my doctor's instructions.
Were you allowed to deliver it any way you like?
Yes, I got to call the shots for the birth plan.
Good for you! I would love to do surrogacy! I’ve looked into it and as it turns out, I’m too fat and too depressed lol. Do you have plans to become a repeat surrogate?
Oh damn, haha. Sorry to hear that. I'm not sure about doing it again. It went well, but I want to have another child of my own, and by that time, I'll probably be too old for any more pregnancies.
Thank you for doing the AMA! I just had my second child 5 days ago and in the past I had wondered about surrogacy and if that would be something I could do. How did you get involved in the process? Was it difficult to get approved?
Congratulations on a safe and speedy delivery/recovery! I am very jealous of your ability to sleep through the night!
Congrats on your 2nd child!
It was easy to get involved. Once I had decided on an agency, I filled out an application through their website and they called for an initial phone interview. Getting approved was a long process that required an in-person interview, background check, and medical check.
It's crazy how much easier it is to recover from delivery when you actually get to sleep at night! :o
How does a couple looking for a surrogate go about finding one? My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant battling infertility, and I'm starting to consider surrogacy as an option but don't know where to start!
The easiest way is to have a family member or good friend willing to do it for you. That would be incredibly lucky, though, so most use a surrogacy agency, which will match you with a surrogate. You can find an agency by doing a google search. I'll PM you the name of the one I used, as I highly recommend them.
Is the money you made considered work income or regarded as a different kind of revenue and are you taxed on it?
It is taxed like independent contractor earnings.
Was your boyfriend in the room when you delivered to support you? If so how was that for him?
He was! He was there holding my hand as I pushed. He wasn't sure how he would handle it because he'd never been in the room during a delivery before, but he didn't have any issue with it at all. He was a total champ.
For sure! I'm on the fence about whether I'll do it again, but I'm glad I did it once. Kinda like a bucket list thing. :)
Was there the possibility that the embryo could be rejected, if so would the procedure simply be repeat with a new embryo? Also curious to know - if you know - whether the couple needed to adopt the baby, or is it considered legally theirs automatically since they produced the embryo! Wonderful that you let them attend the birth. A precious story that they can later share with their child.
There is a very good possibility that the embryo wouldn't "stick" to the uterine lining. It's not uncommon. In fact, only about 60% of embryo transfers "stick". We were lucky because the first embryo transfer was successful. After unsuccessful embryo transfers, the intended parents decide whether or not to try again.
The baby was legally theirs from day one.
Thank you for the kind words! Having them there in the delivery room was very important to me because I wanted them to experience the drama/action/magic/yuckiness. :)
Did you go into labor naturally or were you induced to ensure the parents were there for the birth?
If naturally, how did the parent make sure they didn’t miss it? I know labors typically go faster with each pregnancy.
We were going to wait for it to happen naturally, but we got impatient and went in for an induction in week 39.
Hey I'm a surrogate too! 21 weeks, and I'm in canada. You must be American?
Awesome! Congrats on being over half way done with the pregnancy!!
Yes, I'm in the US.
Whats the process of getting the egg implanted (if that’s the right term)?
It was surprisingly easy. It was fast (the actual implantation didn't take more than 5 minutes), and I didn't feel anything more than I would have from, say, a routine pap smear. All I had to do was lie down and, well, let the doctor stick the embryo up in there.
How is the baby doing now? How old is she? What would have happened if you had a miscarriage?
She is healthy and doing well!
The agency sent me my compensation once a month. Had I miscarried, I would have been allowed to keep the monthly payments I'd received up to that point, but there wouldn't be additional payments. The intended parents would then be given the choice to let me try again with a new embryo, or to go back to the wait list and wait for a different surrogate.
What sort of screening process, if any, did you have to go through to qualify as a surrogate? I think it's amazing that you could do this for the new parents, by the way. I'm sure they are over the moon for that baby!
The screening process is extensive. They checked my medical records from my previous pregnancy, ran a background check, flew me to their headquarters for an in-person psychological interview, and had me go through some medical testing.
Were you a mother before this or have you given birth prior? I remember hearing surrogates already had to go through the birth process at least twice prior to being a surrogate, is this true?
Yes, I was a mother before this. Surrogacy agencies do require surrogates to have had a successful and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, but I've never heard of an agency that requires two births to qualify!
What sort of questions did the parents ask you, and what type of information do you provide to the agency. Does the agency pair you with a set of parents based on this information or some criteria?
The parents had few questions for me. The only one I remember was whether I eat organic food. They were willing to contract with a single mother, so I don't think they were particularly picky. :)
To the agency, I provided my pregnancy medical records and some information about my hobbies and interest, employment and living situation, motivation for becoming a surrogate, and preferences for parents to be matched to.
The agency makes matches based on these responses and my personality, which they assess during the in-person interview.
Is your username a reference to the campfire song The Princess Pat?
Did you go to Girl Scout camp too?
Surprisingly well paid you say. How much are we talking? And is jt a fixed and equal prize for every surrogate?
I researched the compensation rates offered by surrogacy agencies and went with the highest one I found, which got me about $50,000. For the most part, it's a fixed compensation rate for all surrogates, though some can get more by having twins/triplets or by having completed a surrogacy previously.
Despite the agreement with the parents, if you decided to change your mind at the last minute and keep the baby, do the parents have any legal recourse to take the baby away from you?
For sure. We had a water tight contract. They could sue and win easily.
I paid off my student loans, and the rest I'm keeping to put towards a down payment on a house (well, there was also a Disney World trip...). I continued working my regular full-time job throughout the process.
So if the baby is not genetically yours, does that mean that a DNA test between the two of you wouldn't match?
Sorry if that's a dumb question,
My wife’s best friend isn’t able to carry their own baby, and have two eggs left. Thank you for doing what you did, haven’t read too far down to see if you described what the couple’s situation was, why they couldn’t carry their own? I tell my wife from time to time that I’d be fine if she decided to carry for her friend.
That's very generous of you! Not every partner would be willing to support their wife through the surrogacy process.
The couple's situation was basically a heartbreaking series of IVF attempts and miscarriages.
If the baby was stillborn or passed at some point during pregnancy or soon after birth, what would follow? Are you still compensated the same?
If the baby was stillborn or passed away after birth, I would still receive the full compensation. Had I miscarried, I would have been allowed to keep the monthly payments I'd received up to that point, but there wouldn't be additional payments.
What did your family think about your decision to become a surrogate?
They were all supportive, but the reactions varied from perplexity to excitement. I couldn't have done it without family support, though, because it turns out being pregnant when you have a 3 year old is a bit tougher than the first pregnancy...
As a man, I'd like to get into this field. What is the pay differential for males vs females?
The rare field where women make substantially more than men... ;)
Was it hard letting the baby go?
Nope - I'm not interested in caring for a newborn at the moment, so I was more than happy to hand her over to her parents!
Do you enjoy being pregnant or the idea of pregnancy? What made you decide that this was something you were interested in doing? Would you do this again?
I wouldn't say I enjoy it, but I had a very easy pregnancy with my own daughter, so I felt it was something I wouldn't mind doing again for a good cause.
The compensation was one of my motivations (especially because I had student loans I wanted to pay off), but of course I was also motivated by wanting to help a couple with their dream of being parents.
Not sure if I'll do it again... I'll see how I feel in a couple of years. :)
What do you think the toughest thing about being a surrogate is?
Did you breastfeed the baby? If so, how long? Is the baby being breastfed now?
I expressed some milk for the baby while at the hospital, and after that they used formula.
Do you also have a regular job? And if so do you get maternity leave?
Yes, I worked my regular full-time job throughout the pregnancy. I didn't qualify for maternity leave at my company, so I used my sick time to take time off following the delivery.
How does it feel to help this family who couldn’t do it on their own? That’s got to be an awesome feeling!
What made you decide to do this?
It is! When the baby came out, the mother starting crying tears of joy and came over to hug me and thank me. I'll never forget that moment.
The compensation was a big motivation for me, but it's not just that. I love my daughter and feel blessed to have her. I know others are not as lucky as me, so I wanted to help someone.
Would you suggest surrogacy to someone who wants to know what it’s like to be pregnant, but not wanting to actually keep the baby? I feel like this would be perfect for me but I’m scared of the mental health factors that may come with it.
As the other commenter said, you would have to have your own child first before an agency would contract with you. (They want to make sure your body is capable of carrying a baby to term without major complications.) However, you could still be a surrogate privately. And yes, I would recommend it because in addition to fulfilling your goal of experiencing pregnancy, you'd be doing something amazing and rare for another person. :)
My daughter and son in law are in the process right now. My daughter has had two liver transplants and her colon removed; her docs urged her not to attempt a pregnancy and she finally agreed. Adoption was an option but for their 1st child they wanted their DNAs involved. Their agency is searching for a suitable surrogate now. Have you heard many/any stories about surrogacies gone bad? What should they be looking out for? What are the lines of communication? How far away were you from the intended parents?
Thanks for your consideration of all this.
I haven't heard any horror stories myself. The agencies screen potential surrogates very thoroughly, so that's definitely the least riskiest route to go. The only thing they should look for is to find a surrogate they feel comfortable with, in terms of personality and agreement on issues like abortion. I didn't communicate directly with the IPs until after the embryo transfer, and then the line of communication was text messaging with the mother. The method and extent of communication is something the IPs and the surrogate agree on together. The IPs live in a different state than me (I'm in NC).
I was born thanks to a gestational surrogate! Thanks for doing such a kind thing for another couple :)
Do you plan to stay in contact with the baby/couple? Why or why not?
I will stay in contact with the mom because I want to hear updates on how she and the child are doing.
Just wanted to say I greatly admire those who do surrogacies. You ladies do amazing work.
Think you’d do another surrogacy? Or was this more of a one and done life experience?
And how did you get into the idea? Was it something you always wanted to do or something you just recently discovered to do?
I'm open to the idea of another surrogacy, but I want to have another child of my own first. After that, I have a feeling I might be done with pregnancy!
It was something I'd wanted to do for a few years. It took me a few months to get pregnant with my own, and I remember being worried that I might not be able to get pregnant. Once I did, I realized how lucky I was, and that some are not as lucky as I am.
First, thank you for doing this AMA. I've seriously considered becoming a gestational surrogate. I'm one of those crazy people that actually enjoyed being pregnant. I'd love the opportunity to be pregnant again, and to give someone a child of their own. I have a couple of questions:
1) Did you have any leeway in who you were matched with? ie: could you have said you preferred to be matched with a couple that did not want to hide their use of a surrogate?
2) Are there any medical conditions that you know of that make it so a potential surrogate would absolutely get denied? I understand there are age and BMI requirements. I have a bicornuate (heart-shaped) uterus which carries a slightly higher risk of preterm labor but I carried my own kiddo to term.
Thank you for your time!
Maybe this isn't something you can disclose, but did the genetic parents do this because of a medical reason? Would their motivations change how you felt about it?
Yes, the reason was medically related. The motivation of the parents didn't matter to me, but it does for some surrogates. I actually requested to be matched with a gay couple, but I was still happy with the couple I was matched with.
Which website did you use to meet them?
That could potentially be identifying, so I PM'd you.
What was your compensation and how did you all find one another?
All in all, it came to around $50,000. I met the couple through the surrogacy agency I applied to.
Did the couple require you to implement any lifestyle/diet changes during the pregnancy? Did you have any restrictions besides travel?
No restrictions except for common sense stuff like abstaining from alcohol. Related to travel, I had to stay within 50 miles of the hospital where I would deliver after 30 weeks.
What's the legal standing of the mother where you are?
In the UK the woman that gave birth is the mother on the birth certificate and I think can only be amended after 6 months. (friend has baby via surrogate)
Up to that point, the women giving birth could technically just refuse to give up the baby and legally they'd be the mother so would be protected so you really have to trust the surrogate.
Here in the US, the laws vary by state. In North Carolina where I delivered, the parents had their name on the birth certificate. My name didn't go on the birth certificate, and I had no legal standing as a parent to the baby.
Did you give any discounts for multiple babies? Did you shoot for 4-8? Or even more than octomom, did you try to out do that bitch?
If you'll look down around number four or five, that's when you really start to see some savings.
Without too many details that would “out” the parents, what kind of situation was it where both of their genetic materials were viable but she couldn’t carry the baby?
I don't think she was diagnosed with anything, but for some reason she was never able to carry to term despite several attempts.
Are you Princess Pat? Do you live in a tree? Have you sailed across the seven seas?
No, but we are well acquainted. :)
So rare to get a comment on my username! Did you go to Girl Scout camp too?
If you were seriously injured in childbirth that left you with an ongoing medical problem how would the costs for that be covered? And would you feel differently about the ammount of compensation?
I assume the insurance would cover ongoing medical expenses, but it's kind of hard to put a $ value on ongoing suffering a disability? For example feacal incontinence can have a huge impact on someone's life, 50K wouldn't be worth it.
For something like loss of uterine function, I would be given a set payout. Pregnancy- or delivery- related medical expenses are covered for up to 90 days following delivery.
Had I been seriously or permanently injured, then it wouldn't have been worth it to me, especially because I hope to have more children of my own. So I knew I was taking a risk.
Was it required that you allow the parents to be in the room during birth? You said they did skin-to-skin between new mom and baby, but did you have a choice about whether to let them witness the whole process?
If the child ever learns that she was born via surrogate, she might feel that you are her “real” mother (humans are weird psychologically). If that happens and she seeks you out, would you be open to having a relationship with her?
No, it wasn't required. It was my choice. As the person giving birth, I got to call the shots for how the delivery would play out.
If she wanted to get in contact with me down the line, I would love to! I doubt she would ever think of me as her "real" mother, but if she did, I would explain how I'm really not. I was just the oven, not the baker. ;)
You mentioned in a comment that the stakes are high if someone found out the parents used a surrogate. Did your contract state that you weren't able to tell anyone who the parents were or giving any information that could help people find them?
No, there was nothing in my contract about it. It was a request from the parents. I probably worded it poorly when I said the stakes were too high; I meant that a post on Reddit wasn't worth accidentally violating their privacy, when it's so important to them to keep the surrogacy a secret.
What are the odds that you have multiples as a surrogate? Or did you/the parents specify they wanted a singleton?
It depends on how many embryos are transplanted. Some parents choose to implant more than one to increase the odds of the embryo "sticking" to the uterine lining. The parents I worked with decided to implant only one embryo, so the odds of having multiples in that case would be the same odds of an embyro splitting in a normal pregnancy.
Late comment, so I hope you get this. My wife and I just completed our surrogacy journey for a couple we too didn’t know. She greatly wanted to do this for someone, and I wanted her to do what she felt she needed to in her heart.
Anywho, 3 weeks ago we had the child and spent a couple days with the intended parents before they took the child and left town. Since that point, my wife has had a lot of emotional swings. One minute she is happy, then she gets triggered and cries because she has conflicting feelings about the child. She knows he is not hers, but can’t help feel attachment for something she carried for 37 weeks. Did you deal with anything similar, and if so what helped soothe these feelings?
I didn't feel the attachment, but I did have emotional swings. I would imagine she is experiencing PPD to some extent, and that's wreaking havoc on her emotions. Has she talked to her OB about this?
Do you still get maternity leave?! I would imagine you need some time to recover from the pregnancy etc so it would only make sense but I know our country (us?) doesn’t really have sensible healthcare policies.
I didn't qualify for maternity leave because of my company's policies, but many other surrogates do. I could have taken unpaid leave through FMLA had I needed it.
What would you do if you gave birth to the Antichrist?
Wouldn't change anything in my situation. That would suck for the parents though!
Which class of the population do you belong to? (Working - lower middle, middle, upper middle - upper class)? And which class do the clients of your agency belong to?
Do you think the existence of things such as gestational surrogates are a step forward to the end of patriarchy end to the right of women to occupy their body as they please?
Do you think being a gestational surrogate is just another type of job that presents no more risks than usual jobs do, or do you think it's something else?
How do you feel giving the baby away? How do you feel about people paying fortunes to have "their own" baby, while lots of them can be adopted?
Do you think that kind of possibilities (gestational surrogates) are a risk to see some forms of eugenism rise in our modern societies (for instance : a couple desperately wanting a blond blue eyed baby with curly hair or what do I know).
Thank you for your time and this AMA
I would probably label myself as working, lower middle class. The clients of the agency belong to upper middle and upper class.
I never saw much political relevance to surrogacy in terms of the patriarchy until I started posting on Reddit about it. Inevitably, there are Redditors who chime in to say that paid surrogacy exploits women. I guess they think they are helping women, but I don't like the idea of making compensated illegal because it might "exploit" me. Women should have the freedom to choose whether carrying a child for payment is something they want to do.
I felt nothing but positive feelings giving the baby away. That baby is so wanted, and she will be showered with love. I don't judge parents for choosing surrogacy over adoption. Adoption is also an expensive and lengthy process, and some can't qualify.
Why 3 posts about this?
Currently, there are more people on wait lists for a surrogate than there are women willing and able to be a surrogate, so I want to spread the word to see if I can inspire others to consider surrogacy.
Are you pumping and sending milk after the fact? If so for how long? Also if so,do you get paid for that?
I'm not, but many surrogates do. Pumping, freezing, and shipping milk is compensated at $350/week at the agency I used.
I have a close friend who has been a surrogate three times; watching her positively impact families who can’t conceive has been really awesome. So thank you for being so selfless.
On a personal note, to my question:
I loved being pregnant I felt great (no sickness, no nausea, no aches, etc), I had insanely easy labors (my second labor was 47 minutes from start of labor to delivery of the placenta) and I’ve considered surrogacy because we don’t want more kids....but, I’d love to go through pregnancy again and give someone else who can’t have one, a baby. The problem is I’m in the US military and I am not allowed to be a surrogate until after I’m done. I’ll be 38 when I retire from the military—is that to old to be a surrogate?
What did the “getting pregnant” part look like? Did you have to take any hormones or shots? Did you donate an egg or was that not part of the process?
39 is the cutoff for the agency I contracted through, so you'd be able to do it in time. :)
I took hormones orally and vaginally and through a daily self injection leading up to the embryo transfer. After the embryo transfer, I continued those meds for about a month and a half until the doctor cleared me to stop because my body was ready to make the pregnancy hormones itself. After that, the pregnancy was like any other.
I didn't donate an egg, and it's rare for surrogates to do so. In my case, the embryo was made from the mother's egg. Sometimes a donor egg is used.
I've always wondered how maternity leave works for Surrogates, do you get the same leave as if you were delivering a child biologically related to you?
It depends on their company. I didn't qualify for maternity leave at my company because the policy required you to be a "caregiver" of the child. Other surrogates I know did qualify, though. FMLA will also allow for unpaid maternity leave.
Some couples might seek surrogacy because it may affect their careers and lifestyle to be be pregnant, rather than because they’re infertile. Do you think surrogacy should only be for infertile couples or this type of situation as well?
I don't have a problem with people using surrogacy for any reason they want to. If the reason isn't infertility, though, they will probably have a harder time finding a surrogate.
Do you worry about post pardon depression? Awful to ask - but let’s say you had PPD and had to take time off work or receive expensive treatment. Would this be compensated and/or provided?
I did have some mild PPD for a couple of months. I got medication for it, which was covered. Medical expenses and missed work would be covered for up to 90 days following the delivery.
How does it feel walking around in public with the baby?
I don't have the baby because the parents took her home from the hospital. :)
What support did the surrogacy agency provide for you and the parents other than introduction? Do you know what fees the agency charged the intended parents?
I had a case manager I could turn to when I had a question or needed something. She checked in with me regularly to make sure I was doing OK, and she guided me through each step of the surrogacy process. The agency also arranged for a monthly support group (over video call) made up of other surrogates in my own state (NC).
I can't begin to speculate how much the agency charged the intended parents, but I'm sure it wasn't cheap!
My sister died in childbirth, so I am curious - what safeguards were in place for you as a surrogate should something unthinkable happen to you? I saw they insured you for health visits but what about life or disability insurance?
I am sorry for your loss.
The parents paid for a life insurance policy for me. I had my daughter as the beneficiary.
What's the agency you work for? I mean what's the name of the agency the couple used to contact you. (Sorry English is not my first language).
Can you decide that you want keep the child for yourself at the end of it?
No, I wouldn't be allowed to do that because of the contract I signed.
What if you had a complication? Like ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy.
Will the agency cover the cost of your medical treatment?
Yes, the agency would cover it (well, the parents would pay the agency, and the agency would disperse the payment to me).
Would your contract cover any costs related to pregnancy related long term illnesses? Such as postpartum thyroiditis, postpartum anxiety/depression, or pelvic floor therapy?
Yes, but only up to 90 days following delivery.
How weird is it to sell your womb?
I still have my womb, so it's more like renting. ;)
Exploitation of poor women, that’s what it is. And before you come at me, ask yourself this : how many women would agree to go trough this for free, without knowing the couple? Exactly, there wouldn’t be that many of them. I can’t believe this is being normalized, when it’s a practice that’s infringing on women’s rights and poor people in general.
If anyone else would like to exploit me with $50,000, I'm game!
Would you do this again? Can you do this again? Or is it a 1 time thing in general?
I could do it again if I wanted to, and many surrogates do multiple journeys. Personally, I'm not sure. I want to have one more child of my own, and after that I might feel "done" with being pregnant.
Was the birthing process more difficult (dealing with the pain and pushing) than when having your own baby? I assume you had an epidural?
I had an epidural for both this delivery and with my first one. It was less difficult this time compared to my first delivery, and I assume that's because it was a 2nd delivery and had nothing to do with it being a surrogate delivery.
What was it like with your body changes after pregnancy like lactating, breast growth, etc., especially knowing the baby wasn’t yours?
It wasn't much different compared to after my pregnancy with my own daughter. That is to say, it sucked just as much! Haha. Still working on getting my pre-pregnancy body back.
Lactating is an interesting point of difference, as I didn't have a hungry baby to help me empty the milk. My breasts were sore until my milk supply dried up.
What made you want to do it? Was it financial incentives or the want to help others, or a bit of both?
A bit of both. I wanted to help others, but I needed the financial incentive to make it worth all the time, effort, and hassle of the testing, the IVF treatment, the actual pregnancy, the delivery, and the recovery.
What type of medical information and testing did they request you go through before selecting you as the surrogate?
They asked for my medical records from my pregnancy, and the testing included STD testing, drug testing, and a hysteroscopy.
Did the couple want to know the gender before she was born? Or did they want to be surprised?
We found out the gender together at the 20 week ultrasound. They flew to my state to be there for it.
What will you do for work after?
I continued working my regular, full-time job during and after the surrogacy.
I’m always way late to these things, so I dunno if I’ll get an answer, but did you see the movie Juno before being a surrogate?
Yes, one of my favorites!
1 - Did you have sex while pregnant?
b - if yes, up to what point, and was it awkward, or uncomfortable, or weird?
Yes, all throughout! Some positions were off the table toward the end of the pregnancy when I was huge.
You went one way down an irreversible street for money. Was it worth it?
Well, yeah. If I'd regretted going down that street, I wouldn't be talking about it in such positive terms. ;)
Did they give you regular BAC and drug testing?
They didn't, other than an initial drug test as part of the medical testing, but it was in my contract that they could have randomly tested me at any time.
Have you seen Deep Space Nine?
I haven't. I missed out on Star Trek growing up, so I'm currently going through TNG episodes.
what happens if they detect a “defect” in the baby mid pregnancy?
The parents would decide whether to abort the pregnancy.
Who was in the delivery room with you?
My boyfriend, the intended parents, and the medical staff.
was the baby breastfed by you or the biological mother? and did you still go through periods while gestating?
She is formula fed. No periods - one of the few silver linings of being pregnant, haha.
Did you have vaginal birth? Or an epidural? Did knowing that your just going to hand over the baby within a few hours/days effect your attitude during labor and/or how you labored?
I had an epidural and a vaginal birth. We did a scheduled induction.
Had it been my own baby, I think I would have chosen to go into labor naturally instead of having a scheduled induction. We did the scheduled induction because the parents were in town and getting anxious to meet their baby. Other than that, everything about the labor and delivery was the same as if it was my own baby.
Sorry if I missed this already asked and/or answered, but did the parents go with you for your check ups? Were they with you when you found out it was a girl (or had they picked the gender)?
They didn't live in my state, but they did fly in for the 20 week ultrasound.
They knew the embryo was a girl one. (They didn't get to pick that, though - the doctor performing the embryo transfer had selected the one he felt was most viable.)
I add some cut up hot dog when boiling the macaroni so my daughter gets that much more protein. How about you?
How was the hospital set up? Did the baby room in with you? Were the parents given a room to bond with baby? Did you stay for 48 hours after delivery or released sooner?
I had my own room to recover in, and the parents had a separate room with the baby. I was released the day after the delivery.
I might be too late but I’m very curious—if the same couple wanted you to carry another child for them, would y’all be able to arrange that? And would you consider?
I would be open to it. I'm going to have another child of my own first, and then see if I feel up to another pregnancy.
Why didn’t I get the invite?
You didn't get your invitation? We were waiting for you at the hospital, wondering where you were!
So is this considered a slightly classier way to be a prostitute?
It's only "slightly" classier? Damn...
How has your postpartum experience been so far? Since there isn't a new baby to snuggle and love on (or alternately, to cater to and get up with), do you feel you've been more or less prone to PPD than with your own child?
That's a tough one. Less prone to PPD, I would say. I did have some mild PPD for the first couple of months, but it was a lot easier than after the birth of my own child. I strongly believe that the difference is that I was able to get full nights of sleep following the delivery of the surrobaby, whereas with my own baby, I'm waken up every night multiple times by a newborn. Sleep deprivation is just awful for PPD.
Why would people use a stranger for a surrogate vs. someone they know (preferably a close family member or friend) who can stay a part of their and the child's life? This always struck me as the way to do it..
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a close friend or relative willing/able to be a surrogate.
where you chosen by the parents? how does it work?
I applied to a surrogacy agency, and the agency matched me with the parents.
How did your other kid react about it? https://www.reddit.com/r/legaladvice/comments/3d2s80/ca_should_i_tell_my_future_landlord_that_im/
She was 3 at the time, so she didn't really understand what was going on.