When people find out that I’m a surrogate, the very first thing they usually ask me is “How much do you get paid?” I felt their question was insulting, but I’ve come to realize that it’s just plain curiosity and they’re not judging me. I now tell them “I don’t.”, which is true. We surrogates do not get paid to have someone else’s baby. It’s not a buying and selling market, like if you wanted a new pet. This is a person’s child, a human being that they themselves could not physically carry.
As surrogates, we are helping them receive what they have been yearning for. We do what we do for the emotional fulfillment and to give something back because we are capable. We do get compensated for pain and suffering (which let me tell you…and I will in another blog post sometime down the road…there is plenty of), however, that compensation equals to about the same as working a part time job. That compensation allows us to do what we do, making it financially possible to be pregnant for another, while having our own family as well. We’ve gone through having the joy of our own children and the money allows us to do the same for someone else. The compensation can help put surrogates in a better financial position as well. We can go back to school; put a down payment on a home; it can help a stay-at-home mom set realistic goals and feel useful. People seem to have this idea in their heads that if you carry someone else’s child you get all your debts paid off, free plastic surgery, a platinum card, AND a new car! Not to mention getting showered with gifts from your intended parents who must be millionaires themselves (not!).
The truth: it’s expensive to conceive a child if you can’t do it the ol’ fashioned way. Most people who come to the decision that they need a surrogate are already financially strapped. They have probably gone through tens of thousands of dollars already via fertility treatments, etc. Just because someone wants their own baby using modern technology doesn’t mean they are wealthy. This is why Surrogate Alternatives is so helpful. They know all of this. They deal with the finances. They help everyone understand what is needed and what expenses to expect and why some things are necessary and some are not.
Please remember, it’s more than just the intended parents and the surrogate involved. There are many factors to consider: the different types of insurance needed, fertility clinics, lab work, travel, doctors, hospitals, lawyers, and the red tape that is the law. From personal experience, you should not do this on your own. On both sides of the playing-field, it can be financially and emotionally challenging. Having experienced professionals that know the ropes and have gone through every possible scenario is invaluable. Someone in your corner to fight for you and make sure things come out all right can be the difference between life and death for some (thankfully very rarely). And when it all works out beautifully, oh how amazing that is!
I want to bring you all hope, not discourage you. Yes, the money is an issue but remember the rewards: the surrogate who can be proud of herself and her children, who are proud of her because she gave something special to someone in need, while improving her (and her families) life. The new parents who finally get to bring a beautiful baby (or two) home with them and be together for the very first time as a real family. It is that boost up a tall wall. The reality of surrogacy is that it may be an unconventional situation, but those same feelings of happiness are still there once you have climbed over that wall. We are not in the business of selling babies, we are an alternative route to parenthood, walked together creating families.
Ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strain)… this always gets stuck in my head when I’m thinking about anything prenatal. So much goes on in a woman’s body during pregnancy. Some noticeable to the observer, some not so much. Your breasts are definitely a noticeable one. Usually, to the greater satisfaction of your partner. Hands off though, ‘cause: Ouch! Those things are for looking only, no touching at first. They will be so tender, but boy are they perky. Go ahead and enjoy them while they are still all yours. Take as many glances in the mirror or pretend to be looking down at your shirt and check yourself out as much as you can! So many things bum us out when we’re preggers, uncomfortable or self-conscience. Not this though. Uncomfortable maybe a little, but admit it: it’s totally worth it. Enjoy!
There ARE some less enjoyable aspects of your new boobs…There are several other things besides their size you may notice that happen to them throughout your 40 weeks. They’ll get tender; your nipples may stick out more and/or get darker; you might notice some stretch marks (coco butter worked best for me); You may even get your colostrum (a watery yellowish pre-milk substance loaded with nutrients for the newborn) leaking from them near the end of your journey.
After delivery, it doesn’t get easier right away. I’m going to let you know something that no one ever told me before I had kids: breastfeeding, pumping, and/or stopping your milk production can HURT! That’s right, it can all be fricken’ painful and uncomfortable. No matter which route you take — nursing, expressing for someone, or using formula — you’ll get rock hard breasts and your nipples will get sore. Sometimes they crack and oh-ho-ho that smarts! If you’re not allergic, lanolin is a godsend for those babies. When you do stop your milk production, the best recommendations I have are these: Frozen cabbage leaves tucked into your bra (I kid you not, they really DO work!). It really relieves the pressure. Many say to take a warm shower. Warning: That is an immediate fix only! It will encourage your breasts to produce MORE milk, not stop it. You’ll just be starting a vicious cycle of pain and relief over and over again. They make breast pads to catch the leaks but those can be pricy. I’ve found that just buying pantie-liners or pads (depending how heavy you leak) and cutting them in half works just as well. They also conveniently have that sticky back to attach to whatever clothing you may be wearing.
The boob fairy give(ith) and she take(ith) away. You may be one of the lucky ones that get to keep your perky and full pregnancy boobs. I know some of those lucky ladies myself. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. Mine just kind of went back to being my pre-pregnancy size. Other ladies I know said they got what they call “Mom boobs”. Bigger but saggier. It really is the luck of the draw. It’s all part of that ever changing process we woman chose to go through to procreate. Definitely, well worth it if you ask me.
Speaking with IP’s (Intended Parents) and surrogates alike–as well as taking from my own personal experiences–there are two types of relationships that IPs tend to cultivate with their surrogates: familial and business.
The familial is how it sounds. The IPs welcome the surrogate into their lives with open arms, believing that this woman is giving them the greatest gift of all. The hope is for a continued relationship with her after the child is born. Often, this is displayed as going out to dinner together, bringing her and her family gifts and showing other signs of their appreciation. After delivery, they tend to send pictures and email updates to their surrogate mother. Throughout the years they may even visit, forming a continuous bond made for life.
In the second situation, the IPs believe they are reimbursing the surrogate for services rendered concluding with the birth of their child. The road to becoming parents has been so difficult for them that they do not wish to have anything possibly hinder them in their endeavor. The surrogate is a necessity, but not necessarily an extended part of their family or someone they wish to stay in contact with. Some may not even wish to tell their children how they were conceived, due to personal reasons.
Both of these views are completely understandable and should be acceptable to anyone choosing to become a surrogate. However, both types of IP’s have been known to switch sides during or right after their journey. For most, the journey is uncharted territory and it is very difficult to know what your emotions will be like during each stage. Incredibly supportive IP’s have cut ties abruptly with surrogates once the baby is born and somewhat apprehensive ones have opened up and taken to their surrogate more than they expected.
What is really needed for the whole process to work is a calm understanding. A surrogate needs to understand that the IPs have gone through more than they could imagine to get to this point; it’s only natural for them to be scared when they perceive that they are so close and yet still so far from their dreams. The IPs need to understand that the surrogate has chosen her role to help a family in need, knowing full well that the child is not hers. She will go through many changes she’s experienced before, but this time there is a mix of altruism and the unknown that are present. Both sides need to be able to trust one another.
No company knows this better than Surrogate Alternatives. Not only is this their trade, this is their passion. Filled with past and present surrogates and egg donors they understand the entire process from both sides. Their goal is to tailor each surrogacy to each person’s expectations. They know how to match IP’s with the right kind of surrogate so that trust and understanding can thrive. No matter the family dynamic, they strive to give 100% of their time, effort and experience into each arrangement so that a healthy, happy baby (or two) may be born into a loving family. Every one of them fits a heart shape.
**This blog was provided by a wonderful Surrogate named Krystal Taylor-Cahill
When I was young, I used to have the fear that I would never be able to have children. It was an irrational fear because I had no reason to believe I could not become pregnant. Later, when I became sexually active, I didn’t want to test out my theory. In fact, within three weeks of losing my virginity, I had gone to the doctor, had my first pap and went on birth control. I refused to be a “teen mom.”
Then while in college, after only a few months off of birth control and a month or two of not using contraceptives, I found myself with child and gave birth to a beautiful blue-eyed baby boy. I should add, we weren’t exactly “trying”. But in my opinion, no birth control is trying to get pregnant.
Fast forward 5 years. We were looking for something to fill the void in our lives by starting over in a new place with two small children (my son and step daughter). So I found myself without health insurance, moving across the country and out of birth control. This time it took seven months without the pill and three with no other form of birth control and we found ourselves pregnant with a baby girl! We now have three beautiful children in our home. As an adult, I have spent more time in my life trying not to get pregnant than I have, ever even thinking, about getting pregnant.
Trying to become a surrogate over the last year has been a real experience for me. During my first surrogacy journey, I realized becoming pregnant was a gift I have always taken for granted. It opened my eyes and now I see, for some, this is a journey full of heartache, sorrow, grief and loss. All things I never had to deal with in my own life. I want very much to help a couple turn into a family. Despite all the trials and tribulations, there is real joy that being a parent brings to your life. I believe that having my son saved my life. It gave me something to work for and now everything I do in my life is geared toward my family and raising my children.
During my first cycle, I was so confident; the odds are on our side, right? We had a good egg donor, good embryos… Only one embryo my first transfer because my couple was intent on having a son. Time to just sit back and wait…
I knew I was pregnant. I could feel the fullness in my belly. The injections had already caused swollen, sore breasts and cramps as my uterus expanded. I was good and didn’t cheat-I waited for the HCG test. When they tested me, the results came in at 21 (Huh?). “You are pregnant,” they told me, “but that’s extremely low [home pregnancy tests won’t read a number under 25. However, a number over 5 is considered pregnant]. Today is Thursday. Come back Monday to retest and hope it’s gone up.”
My IPs didn’t know what to think. I was still hopeful. Someone told me the embryo could have just implanted late. I stayed positive, did a lot of research and found out that, in theory, HCG numbers should double on a daily basis. So, if I was 21 on Thursday and things are progressing normally, Saturday a home pregnancy test will be pink, right?
I cheated and ended up running to my bed crying: The test was negative. I was devastated. I felt sorrow and loss and grief and so, so sad for my IPs. They wanted this so badly. I cried and cried. I called my surro sister and cried some more. What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? I didn’t tell my IPs yet, I couldn’t do it. It was difficult to talk to them after I knew because I am not a good liar and you can hear it in my voice—the reassurance is gone. We ended up the 40-50% of embryo transfers that do not work. I can tell you friends, it sucks.
Sadly, our second attempt ended with almost identical results. And the aftermath of round two was worse. The first thing I did was blame myself. I cried and was devastated again. This time I would’ve rather had a negative from the first test, just drags out the inevitable. At that point, my IPs were unable to try again as they could not afford another cycle or stand any further heartache, I’m sure.
I have been reassured that the problem is not me. I know statistics. No matter how many times you do something, the odds remain the same. There is no guarantee. You can play and play the roulette table but the odds will still be the same: You may never hit red.
This entire experience has opened my eyes and made me appreciate the gifts that I have been given so much more. I will be starting with my second couple and hoping that the odds will be in our favor. I don’t think it ever gets easier, but it is a reality we have to accept as surrogates. We are starting our own journey with these families and as much as we feel the joy, we have to prepare for the loss.
I am truly grateful for the experience I have had and so thankful for the support of my surro sisters. Having these ladies understand the hope, the joy, the pain and the sorrow, makes it so much easier. SAI is such an amazing place and hopefully my journey is just beginning.
Krystal Taylor Cahill
In California, we already have very good surrogacy case-law, but with the passage of California Assembly Bill 1217, we now have new and improved – and positive – California legislation regarding surrogacy which goes into effect on January 1, 2013.
The good news is that the very strong case-law in California (which is surrogacy friendly and considered by many to be the strongest law in the country) remains unchanged. The current case-law essentially provides that intended parents in an assisted reproduction arrangement, whether or not biologically related to the resulting child, should be declared the legal parent of the resulting child. The current legislation in California under the Uniform Parentage Act defines the parent-child relationship as the legal relationship existing between a child and the child’s parents, and it governs proceedings to establish that relationship. Existing law provides that a party to an assisted reproduction agreement may bring an action under the Uniform Parentage Act at any time to establish a parent and child relationship consistent with the intent expressed in the agreement. Existing law also regulates the practice of surrogacy facilitators in assisted reproduction agreements, including surrogacy agreements.
The new legislation, however, provides additional guidance relating to the manner in which surrogacy agreements must be executed, when medical procedures can be commenced, and where parental establishment cases may be filed. Although some of the procedures outlined in the bill were already utilized by experienced assisted reproduction practitioners, they were not required by law. So, in essence, the new law creates clear guidance and codifies some best practices for the benefit of all involved. There may well be more we can do in California to further codify best practices, but the provisions outlined in the new law clarify for courts what constitutes a properly executed surrogacy agreement and they help protect all parties to the agreement—surrogate, intended parents and child—from potential exploitation.
In relation to Gestational Surrogacy Agreements, the new law:
- Requires that intended parents and a surrogate be represented by separate legal counsel.
- Requires notarization of gestational surrogacy agreements.
- Requires the execution and notarization of an agreement prior to the administration of medications used in assisted reproduction or any embryo transfer procedure.
- Requires the parties to a gestational surrogacy agreement to attest, under penalty of perjury as to their compliance with these provisions.
- Provides that an gestational surrogacy agreement executed in accordance with these provisions is presumptively valid.
In relation to establishing legal parentage between intended parents and the resulting child, the new law:
- Permits intended parents to establish parentage prior to the child’s birth.
- Permits intended parents to establish parentage prior to the child’s birth and permits the filing of the parentage action in the county where the child is anticipated to be born, the county where the surrogate or intended parents reside, the county where the agreement was executed, or the county where the medical procedures were performed.
- Requires that a copy of the gestational surrogacy agreement to be filed with the court as part of the parentage action.
- Seals records of the agreement to all except parties except the intended parents, surrogate, their attorneys and the state Department of Social Services.
****I would like to personally thank Richard Vaughn at International Fertility Law Group for this information and remind you that the above summary does not take the place of obtaining legal advice based on your unique set of circumstances. As always, it is best to seek such advice from a qualified and experienced assisted reproduction attorney.
It is one of the longest, roughest and most winding roads that lead someone to consider having a surrogate carry their child. As long as it takes to get there, the journey has just begun when you arrive. A woman who chooses to become a surrogate begins the process with a giving heart.
When an Intended Parent (IP) is matched with a surrogate a bond forms. It’s different for everyone but the basics are the same. Yearning meets donation, where wanting and giving come together to travel the same path for as long as the journey takes.
A surrogate who is healthy, fertile and willing to carry a baby in her womb for nine months means HOPE; she is a gift unlike any other. Step by step this gift increases in value until ultimately; the greatest gift of all has been achieved: Life, a child to complete a family.
What most outsiders don’t realize is that women who choose to become surrogates don’t do it for the money, or the recognition. We are in it for the rush! That wonderfully, amazing rush; just knowing we have the power and ability to help someone else. We can give what others need. It’s a powerful feeling to be able to provide something that comes so easily to us. We are givers in the truest sense of the word. The fulfillment we receive is from seeing the look on the faces of the new parents when they hear their baby’s first heartbeat, when they see the first ultrasound and when they finally get to meet their precious child for the first time. Those moments are priceless and being a part of those moments makes us shine. No monetary compensation could equal the pure joy that fills your heart to share something so life changing with someone else.
Whether you are longing to be a parent and aching for a child or you are a woman looking for something more to give in life, ask yourself this: Are you ready to change a total stranger’s life and make a difference in the world?
This journey may have roadblocks and bumps along the way, but it is an adventure, that’s for sure and if you are the kind of person who can be selfless and can open your heart up to the possibilities, it may just be the most rewarding experience of your life!
At http://www.SurrogateAlternatives.com you’ll find your answers. Also, any comments left will be answered by some of the most knowledgeable people in the field of IVF and surrogacy. So please, ask away. As I have said before; there are never too many questions when it comes to pregnancy…
From Halloween until Super bowl, the holidays of sweet and savory junk food are upon us and it can be a tough time to just say no! If you’ve ever been pregnant during this tempting time of the year, you will know just how tough avoiding the temptation can be. Even if you haven’t, just know it’s tougher when you believe you are “eating for two”. This is not true by the way – you do need to eat and burn more calories when you are pregnant, but not enough for a whole other person. This is why Gestational Diabetes is such an easy trap to eat your way into. Most people know about Type 1 Diabetes (an autoimmune disease) and Type 2 Diabetes (a metabolic disorder); but not many people know what gestational diabetes really is; how you get it, how it’s treated, if it’s permanent or what affect it will have on the baby?
Firstly let’s start with a definition (from Web Dictionary):
Gestational diabetes (or gestational diabetes mellitus, GDM) is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.
Gestational Diabetes (GD) will usually go away after you deliver the baby, however, statistically, many of the women who get it, will develop Type 2 later in life (boo). Secondly, it is not entirely clear as to how it develops in the first place. It only appears in about 5% of American pregnancies.
Unfortunately, Gestational Diabetes is on the rise. While it is linked to your weight, poor diet and lack of exercise, genetics and ethnicity play a crucial part in it as well. Gestational diabetes makes its appearance in the 3rd trimester and is usually treatable by a controlled diet and, sometimes, insulin.
Those pesky pregnancy hormones are to blame and even though we make three times the amount of insulin when we are pregnant, it is sometimes not enough: the placenta (the organ that connects the baby via the umbilical cord to the uterus) is trying to prevent the mother from getting low blood sugar. In between the 24 to 28 week mark your doctor will have you do a glucose screening test. Within 5 minutes, you will be asked to drink an orange flavored sticky-flat-super-sweet-soda-pop-like substance (though I’ve heard rumors that it also comes in cola and lime flavors too). You would wait an hour and then do a blood test. Be sure to bring a book, magazine, phone or tablet because you’re not allowed to leave during this time. Your results should be available in a few days and if your sugar levels are high you’ll have to go back and take the three hour test.
Luckily, only about one-third of woman who have to do the second test actually have GD. If it turns out that you are one of the unfortunate groups, you’ll probably have you keep track of your sugar levels with a glucose monitor and keep your results in a chart formatted journal. No candy, sweets or sodas for a while. You may also have to take insulin, however, this usually only happens during the time of delivery because some of the medications you may receive could increase your sugar levels. Also, just because you got GD during one pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it for the next, especially if you keep up your healthier routine.
GD doesn’t normally affect the baby; however, in some cases it can cause the following problems: Macrosomia (aka “big baby”) meaning any baby over 8lbs 13oz, which can make childbirth difficult, most likely leading to a caesarian delivery. GD can also lead to the possibility of the child developing Type 2 Diabetes later on in life. Another effect is that the baby could become Hypoglycemic (too much insulin resulting in low blood sugar) after birth. Your doctor will test for this. While jaundice is also a common condition, the likeliness of a newborn suffering from it is higher when the mother suffers from GD.
Good luck during this tempting time of year and try to avoid the temptation if you can. The weather is cooler, the treats are abundant and all we want to do is cuddle up and eat…and eat… and eat. Just remember that “eating for two” comes with the “responsibility for two” as well. More important than that second helping, is the heath of those first (and possibly second) heartbeats inside of you. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself this winter; knowledge is always power and maybe just reading this blog post will help keep you a little healthier, now that you know what to expect.
The doctor pulls up my shirt and tucks a paper towel down my pants. The next thing I hear is that ketchup bottle sound and feel the freezing cold slime of the gel rolling around on my tummy. But it’s worth it! It’s exciting! One, or two, or (gulp) three?! Could it be a Girl or boy? Full sets of fingers and toes? The prenatal ultrasound is one of the most exciting things about my pregnancy.
Ultrasounds can be uncomfortable, especially if they make you drink a lot of water beforehand (makes that picture crystal clear) and then push the transducer (that rolly thing) right onto your bladder. Or worse, you have a trans-vaginal scan and feel spread open like a Thanksgiving turkey by what looks like one of those “massagers” your girlfriend bought for a bachelorette party. But the payoffs far outweigh the discomforts.
Hearing the heartbeat and seeing something moving inside me, finally makes it real. It’s so important, too. Usually the first ultrasound is done around 20 weeks and not only do you get to “sneak a peek” at what’s to come (kind of like tearing a piece of wrapping paper off the corner of your Christmas present while it’s still under the tree), but a doctor can tell so much more. What looks like a gray smudge to the untrained eyes, could be something important and treatable to them. Where and what is the placenta up to? How far along exactly? Is everything on track and developing and measuring correctly? Is there enough or too much fluid in the womb? Do they need to run more tests or is everything perfect? To the people in the know, these things jump right out. So while I am busy doting on that little alien critter floating in a black lagoon in my belly, they are measuring and cataloging not only the new bundle of joy but also its home, your womb preparing for what’s to come.
With 3D and 4D ultrasounds now available, you can capture baby’s first picture in HD! A word to the wise: these ultrasounds are done just for fun. Don’t look for information on the baby or your health from these unless it’s directly from the doctor. The technicians are trained on how to use the equipment but not diagnose anything. Also, tell them if you don’t want to know the sex of the baby first! Things have a way of slipping out in all the excitement…
So I’ll wipe off that cold lubricant, pull my shirt down and enjoy the fact that even though this baby is still a mystery, my doctor and I have gotten a view of what’s to come and I’ve gotten the first picture for my scrapbook.
In today’s ever-changing world and with the new Obamacare health care reform plan on there being quite a few changes to health insurance provisions in the next few years. Many are asking just what is no longer going to be covered.
Health insurance companies typically have a lot of legalities and a great deal of “small print,” in their benefits and their exclusions and limitations, leaving policy holders uncertain of which services and procedures they are insured and which are not. For those who have intentions of starting a family or expanding their current family, oftentimes typical maternity and standard OB care is covered, as well as newborn coverage for a certain amount of time. Yet, for individuals and couples who are struggling with infertility and having trouble conceiving, insurance for routine maternity and newborn care is rarely covered. Using a surrogate mother may be their only option to become a parent, leaving them to wonder and worry whether or not this type of procedure is covered by their insurance plan.
Currently, there are a few insurance companies who will cover a surrogate pregnancy and delivery as well as insurance that was specifically put in place for this type of service, leaving the guessing out of what is and is not covered. Always be sure to check with the insurance company to verify coverage or more specifically their exclusions and limitations. In most cases, if there is not a specific clause that states that maternity care for a surrogate mother is not covered, they are required to cover her under the same provisions as any standard pregnancy and delivery.
It is always recommended that if you are uncertain, get another opinion by speaking with an attorney or insurance agent who is well versed in these types of situations.