The idea of surrogacy made me sick to my stomach the first time it was mentioned to me. We had been trying to get pregnant for about a year by then and my husband Aaron brought it up a little too casually – and too early – for my taste. I remember snapping at him for even uttering the word. But now here I was: two more years, three IUIs, five IVFs, and two miscarriages later… by then, more than ready to change course. At that point, deciding to pursue surrogacy felt like relief to me. We made our decision over beers one weekday afternoon after what would be our last fertility doctor consult, where we learned about the extreme measures we’d have to take as our next step if we wanted to keep trying. So our decision ended up an easy one, and we never looked back.
I was emotionally prepared to go along with the surrogacy by the time we dove in. But what Aaron and I weren’t prepared for was just how much our surrogacy experience would actually enrich our lives.
Partly on a leap of faith and partly thanks to a very rigorous vetting and interview process (thanks to our incredible agency, The Surrogacy Group), we chose Dani as our carrier— and were grateful she chose us back. We liked how chatty she was and the fact that she only lived one state away in Maryland. (Not all states are surrogacy friendly—Maryland is, but DC is decidedly not, and Virginia is lukewarm.) She told us we seemed like loving people who had been through too much grief.
The surrogacy process is no joke. For a woman to even be eligible to be a surrogate (a proper one that an agency would feel confident representing), she has to score pretty high on a mighty long checklist, participate in a home visit, divulge health and other personal information, and fill out a lengthy personal-essay questionnaire. Once paired, she must then go through months of physical and psychological testing. (As intended parents, we also participated in psychological testing.) Then there’s the drafting of the legal contract between all parties: boy, what a dehumanizing experience that is. Lastly, the surrogate goes through a “trial run” to make sure her body will accept the fertility drugs. If (and it’s a big if) all of those hurdles are cleared, then you’re finally ready to go! Needless to say, everyone involved has to really want to do this thing.
We were even further enriched through the true friendship the four of us developed over time as well. We got to meet their three lovely daughters (the five ladies went out for pedicures and ice cream on one special day) and learn about how they spent their time as a family. Dani and I shared successes and gripes about work, Aaron and Mike hung out at a Caps game… Our foursome was almost like a planned marriage where the couple miraculously ends up falling in love!
The birth of our son was an incredible experience. Thanks to the openness of Howard County General Hospital and our doctor, all four of us spent the entire labor together in the birthing room. It was kind of like a sleepover, passing the hours telling jokes and stories, waiting for the action to start. When the moment finally happened, Mike was there to comfort Dani, Aaron got to cut the cord, and our baby boy Isaac was placed on my chest right away. (Added bonus, Mike volunteered for camera duty, so we got some awesome shots.) The next day, Dani got to visit Isaac and see what a marvelous little human she had incubated for nine months.
Lucky – that’s what Aaron and I consider ourselves to be – to have been blessed with not just a perfect baby boy but also two new extraordinary people in our lives.
I know not every surrogacy experience is like ours. I wish it was. If you are considering surrogacy, I implore you to focus not on what you might miss through the experience, but what you’ll hopefully gain.
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