We have news! I’m 27 weeks (6 months) pregnant with a baby girl. Yay! But the baby is not ours. I’m a gestational carrier for a wonderful family based in LA. The baby is not genetically related to me or Brad. She is her parent’s daughter and I have the privilege of carrying her until she arrives earth side. We are thrilled for them, and excited to share our journey with you. We have been keeping this news to a small group of friends and family for so long, and now we are making it internet public. It’s on the Facebook and everything. Wahoo!
What a fun blog post to be writing. For my first two pregnancies, I kept a “pregnancy journal”. This time around, I’m going to document our journey here on the blog. My hope is to raise awareness about the process - not all babies are conceived and birthed the old-fashioned way. Some of you might be considering surrogacy due to your own fertility challenges, and some of you might want to be a surrogate someday. And several of you are reading because, let’s be honest, it is fascinating. Welcome to our wild adventure.
Let me tell you how we got started on this journey. When I was pregnant with DJ (our second daughter) 5 years ago, my best friend in Seattle told me about her realtor that was going through a surrogacy process in order to have a baby of their own. At the same time, we had several friends in New Zealand going through their own fertility challenges. It got me thinking to myself, “Would I carry a baby for someone that couldn’t carry their own?” Wellllll … I have easy pregnancies and just had an amazing birth experience. The answer was, “I TOTALLY would!” I even went to the extent of researching surrogacy in New Zealand and Australia. The law stipulates that you cannot legally receive compensation - you can only be a gestational carrier for altruistic reasons (meaning, for free). I remember sitting in our living room a couple weeks after DJ was born telling Jules (who was visiting from Seattle) and Brad, “I would totally be a surrogate someday.” They both laughed at me. #IGuessIWasn’tJoking.
Life went on, we moved to Hawai’i a couple months later, I transitioned out of my professional career to start Malama Health and Wellness (aka Malama Momma), then became a birth and postpartum doula the following year. Brad and I spoke at great length about whether or not we wanted to add a third keiki to our family. For a couple years, we did. But for the past 2 years, we’ve (especially Brad) leaned more towards “we’re good - two kids are perfect.” I’m in agreement, but I did still want to do pregnancy and childbirth again. After all, I’m a doula now and completely immersed in our holistic, natural lifestyle. Plus, what a great way to network with the providers and other birth professionals on O’ahu. So, I brought up the idea of being a gestational carrier. Brad was on board. He told me, “Yeah go ahead and get that out of your system - I don’t want another baby.” #WinWinSituation.
The research commenced. In the US, you do receive compensation for being a gestational carrier. The safest route to go is via an agency that legally protects and facilitates the relationship between both the intended parents (IPs) and the gestational carrier (aka surrogate mother). I submitted my application to the Hawaii Surrogacy Center in October 2016. Without going into too much detail, the experience with this small, 2-person “agency” was not professional. We were matched (after 4 months) with a lovely couple here on O’ahu, got to the contract phase, then after I tried to put in some basic provisions (based on contracts I had seen online with other agencies) we were told that they were going with another carrier. That was in May 2017. We had zero follow up from the agency staff - just a phone call from the lawyer informing us of the new direction. Needless to say, if you ever consider embarking on a journey like this, we do not recommend going with this “agency” (which is really one person on the mainland and one local coordinator). The door was closed and I wondered if God had other plans.
Brad and I prayed about it, and we decided to apply with one of the much larger, more established west coast agencies. I submitted my application to the Center for Surrogate Parenting (CSP) in May 2017. The entire process with CSP was SO MUCH BETTER and it felt right. The application phase took longer because they require comprehensive medical and background screening, records, etc. Each step of the way, I felt informed, supported, and reassured that they knew exactly what they were doing (quite different from our Hawai’i agency experience). After months of compiling my application, we were finally to the matching phase. My assigned clinical psychologist (there is a team of several that work with CSP) interviewed me on the phone about the type of family I wanted to support on this journey. She is GOOD at what she does. On September 1, I got to read our proposed intended parents (IPs) profile. I love reading this email I wrote to one of the counsellors at CSP:
How special is that? Before we moved forward with “meeting” them on video call, CSP needed to make sure Brad and I were legit. We happened to be in California end of September for our friends’ wedding and visiting dear friends in Sonoma. CSP has a support group and counsellor based in Sonoma, so we were able to sneak away to meet with her over coffee. All went well and she was able to give CSP the green light - we were approved to meet our matched IPs. Yay! But first, their IVF doctor needed to approve me too. After she reviewed my records, she gave her green light.
On October 22, 2017 I received my first introduction email from the IPs. We were finally able to meet on video call, and everything was awesome. We made plans for us to travel to LA for medical screening with their IVF doctor, to meet them in person, and meet with our clinical psychologist as well. SO EXCITING!!! We were officially “matched.”
I just love telling this story. Can’t stop smiling.
Excited to share more details on the next steps of the journey with you.
I would love to hear from you. What about you - would you carry a baby for someone that couldn’t? Have you already? Are you a family that is considering using a surrogate to help you have a baby? I just love this so much. I know fertility can be a source of deep pain for many families, but here we are on the side of unconventional and it’s quite amazing.
Part 2 is all about our trip to LA for the embryo transfer and confirming the pregnancy. Click here to read more.
Love and aloha,