Imagine if you will, being a woman. A woman who has worked hard and has found a partner. A woman who now wants a child, a complete family. Now imagine trying to conceive this child and nothing happens; going to the doctor and being told you can’t conceive. Then, taking all your hard earned money and trying every other possible alternative to create a baby–hormones, egg retrieval, IVF–again and again with no results. Or even worse getting pregnant (!!!!!) and then miscarrying. Do you think you have an idea of what that could feel like? Now imagine the physical, economical and emotional toll this will take on you.
I can only imagine and sympathize with these women. Unfortunately, I know too many. I’ve had long personal discussions with a few and it breaks my heart. These talks are one of the main reasons surrogate mothers exist today. So, after all this pain and toil, some of these women look towards surrogacy. The reason they choose an agency is for protection. This most precious treasure they have been so long in seeking becomes closer to their grasp and they want to do everything in their power to obtain it.
When a man and woman intend to become parents and look through the files of fully screened surrogates (and, sometimes, egg donors) they are looking for a means to an end, an end to the emptiness they have been feeling, an end to their toils and tribulations. They choose carefully and hope that the surrogate will help them complete their maternal desires.
Once everyone has spoken and agreed to this journey, the contracts are signed; and the medications for the surrogate begin. The egg retrieval is done and at this stage the Intended Mother (IM) becomes even more anxious. It’s happening all over again, but with renewed and different hope! If, and when, the surrogate is confirmed pregnant with a heartbeat ultrasound then the IM is inundated with emotions: “It happened, we’re pregnant! Oh God, we could loose it (again)?!?!” Her maternal instinct takes over and yet she feels out of control because it’s not her body. She may become increasingly concerned with the surrogate’s diet, what medications she is taking, if she is following the doctors orders, and just about every waking aspect of her life—anything from the surrogate getting her hair dyed and nails done to if she is exercising enough or too much. All of this may cause the surrogate to undergo additional stress, which is the exact opposite of what is wanted.
It can become very tense very quickly. There is an emotional switch that can, and does very often occur, with an IM and her surrogate. The IM needs to know that the surrogate is doing everything possible to achieve a healthy pregnancy. She wouldn’t be a surrogate if she weren’t. The surrogate then needs to know that these emotions are not personally aimed at her, it’s just the IM’s fears and apprehensions manifesting due to her own perceived “helplessness” in these matters.
As the pregnancy continues and they enter the second trimester healthily, things tend to lighten up. The emotional roller coaster on both sides seems to even out a bit. The IM starts to feel more secure that the baby is doing well and begins to trust he or she is eventually going to arrive. The surrogate earns the IM’s trust and the women may even become quite close during this part of journey. They may share intimate details with each other, promising to stay friends and keep in touch once the baby is born. This calm may go on until delivery. And, if they are among the lucky ones, it stays that way. The happy healthy baby is born (!!!) and the no longer IM, but now mother, is over the moon, delighted and grateful. She lets the surrogate hold the child after the delivery. They remain in contact via pictures and emails and life is good. 🙂
However, that is a best-case scenario. Once that baby is born, the “Momma Bear Switch” can turn to the extreme level. The IM becomes so frightened, so scared that someone will try to take her child, she suddenly sees the surrogate as a threat. No matter how irrational or unfounded this feeling may be it is real to her and can be completely over-powering. The IM cannot believe that something she has wanted so dearly, and that is so extremely precious to her, would not be coveted by the woman who carried it for her for nine months. This feeling is understandable for the IM, but completely unfounded for the surrogate. The IM will not let the surrogate see the child, let alone hold it. All contact is severed and the surrogate may never hear from the family again. It’s the harsh truth, but it happens. It is completely within the Intended Parents’ (IP’s) rights to do so. The surrogate may just never know the child she helped bring into this world.
For the surrogate, this can be devastating, especially, because it can happen without any warning. Things seem fine until they are in the labor and delivery room. Suddenly, she has had the baby, but there is no baby. The IP’s will not speak to her. She feels alone and abandoned. There is a reason that in a surrogacy contract it states that the surrogate will, if desired, be allowed one hour alone with the baby in the hospital. This is for closure sake. The surrogate had this baby inside her body; she wants to see what she helped to create. A surrogate doesn’t want to keep the child. She entered into the agreement knowing and trusting this. When a surrogate delivers a baby, there is a physical need to know about the child. Much like an artist or a craftsperson that has created something, the surrogate wants to see her work and know that it was successful. It is a completely different connection than with her own children, but it is still valuable to the ending of a journey. It makes it all feel complete.
Sometimes in these situations the IP’s may come around and send an email with pictures. Some have a change of heart later, once that fear has subsided and they are comfortably settled at home with the child. The IP’s may start sending updates to the surrogate in the years to come. But sometimes they don’t and that’s OK too. As long as the surrogate is aware of this possibility as she enters the agreement. The surrogate can be comfortable in the knowledge that what she did was an amazing act of love and is valued even if unspoken. What the surrogate needs for this to work is to know that this separation has nothing to do with her. What she did was a beautiful and fulfilling act. Even if she is not involved in the rest, she has helped to create a loving family. The families are grateful, too, in their own way. Some IP’s have been through such a long and harsh road they are unwilling to take any chances once they’ve obtained that wonderful gift of life. It has made them complete and they don’t want any more obstacles. A clean break was felt best. It all just needs to be communicated.
Understanding on both sides helps. The agency will help provide this from beginning to end, but it really does come down to the individuals involved. Prior knowledge is key. For the Intended Mother, she should remember she’s chosen (albeit reluctantly) to have another woman carry her baby. Conversely, surrogates should be understanding of the IM’s experiences and tribulations. Knowing and being prepared for any possible outcome is best; that means it may hurt, but it can hurt less.
I did it! I finally decided I was worth being taken care of and allowed myself what I had previously considered a luxury: a prenatal massage. You’d think after three pregnancies, I would have done it ages ago; however, I am a very stubborn and “tough” girl who doesn’t believe in “wasting” money on things purely for me. Boy was I wrong. It was wonderful and it will not be the last time I go. This looks like it’ll become a regular thing for me now that I know better. I felt so much more relaxed afterwards. And I slept! I actually slept through the whole night! This never, ever happens to me, especially during pregnancy.
So, you may be asking: What is a prenatal massage and how is it different from a regular massage? A prenatal massage is a specialized technique that is designed for a woman usually in her second trimester up to part way through her third. It’s meant to improve circulation, give you some energy, and take some of the strain away from your over worked muscles and joints. It uses a lighter pressure and you lay on your sides as opposed to your back and tummy. Lying on your back is never a good idea when you’re pregnant. The weight of your baby and uterus blocks circulation to the placenta. This can cause complications that no amount of massage can help. It is a little more difficult for the masseuse to rub you down at this angle but far safer.
It also has the same great benefits as any message does. Loads of studies have shown that they relax and loosen tight muscles, reduce cortisol (that nasty stress hormone), increase blood flow (+++ for us preggers ;-), keeps the lymphatic system going strong, and flushes toxins out of the body. Just be sure to drink plenty of water afterwards as massage releases toxins that have built up in your muscles to float freely through your body, which can make you sick if you are not properly hydrated afterward.
What all this means is, that with regular prenatal massages you should become generally more relaxed. They help relieve insomnia, get rid of joint pain, and relieve swelling and headaches, even sinus congestion. Also not forgetting to mention all those neck, back, hip, leg and sciatica pain you’ve been having.
Here are just a few warnings to keep you safe and happy. The first trimester is a little too risky for a massage. With everything changing, it’s just not a good time (especially for surrogates or anyone getting assistance with conception). Also, research your masseuse first, don’t just go anywhere. People who specialize in this type of massage need to be specifically trained in prenatal massage. The right hands work miracles, the wrong ones could put you in the hospital. New studies are showing that the amount of trust you have in someone is equal to the amount of relaxation you will allow yourself to feel. If you’re not 100% with the person you won’t be able to reap all the benefits. Another thing: stay away from those ankles! They don’t know exactly why yet, but when you rub those bad boys, it can start labor. Unless you are past your due date, keep away. Just skip down to those well deserving (probably slightly larger) feet of yours.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to go book my next appointment…
The placenta is an organ that grows inside a pregnant woman’s uterus to provide nutrients and oxygen to the developing baby. It also enables antibodies to pass from mother to child and removes waste from the baby’s blood. It’s attached to the wall of the uterus and is connected to the baby via the umbilical cord. Basically, it’s what keeps the little one going.
The word Placenta comes from the Latin word for cake. It really does look like a big purple pancake, full of all those good nutrients for the baby. It measures about 9 inches wide and 1 inch thick in the middle, weighing roughly 1 hefty pound at delivery. Delivering the placenta is called the third stage of labor and, unless there are complications, is probably the easiest part of it all. Most women forget after pushing out the kid that there’s just one more part to do before you get to lay back and rest.
Although this super organ can cause issues during pregnancy, as well. The most common is Placenta Previa; when the placenta is low in the uterus and partial or totally covers the cervix (the outlet for the uterus), it can cause severe bleeding and a C-section may be required. Placental Abruption is when the placenta peels away from the uterine wall (partially or fully) and can cause bleeding, a lack of oxygen and nutrients to the baby, and early delivery may be needed. Placenta Accreta is almost the opposite. It’s when the placenta attaches too deeply into the uterus and fails to detach during labor. It can cause bleeding and severe blood loss after delivery and the mother may have to go through surgery afterwards to remove it and possibly her uterus along with it.
I think most readers are really curious about this next part: What is done with the placenta after birth?! Well, we here in the West tend to just incinerate it via the hospital. However, there have been growing beliefs and new findings that we have been wasting something important. Here are just some of the ways our placenta is now being used:
The first is to leave it alone! They aren’t cutting the cord at all. It’s called a Lotus Birth and basically you carry the baby and placenta around until the cord naturally falls off. (Between 1-2 weeks) Those who do this believe that it’s a much more natural and healthy way to slowly introduce their child to the “outside” world. There isn’t any scientific proof as of yet that this is helpful to the babies however there isn’t anything to say nay either….
The second is to encapsulate the placenta and have the mother take it as a supplement after birth. This is a rising trend that started in ancient Chinese medicine. The basis for this thought is that in the wild many mammals eat the placenta after the birth of their young and it seemed to give them rejuvenating properties. More and more woman are doing this as a much more appealing alternative to cooking or eating their own “murder-less meat”. Studies are showing that ingesting your own placenta may actually help rebalance your hormones, possible combating Postpartum Depression by making mothers less fatigued and overwhelmed and in a much cheerier disposition.
Another take-home placenta idea is to bury it. This is probably one of the oldest human customs around the planet. Although it has no health properties this is more of a spiritual belief. I have a Wiccan friend who did this after the birth of her first born son. She planted it at the base of a 9 month old sapling (placentas actually do make wonderful fertilizer) and now the tree grows along with her son. Even if you hold no religious beliefs along these lines, I think it’s still a lovely gesture.
The placenta really is an amazing thing and we are still learning about its benefits to both child and mother. The last time I delivered I donated mine to research. Maybe this time I’ll keep it. And who knows, maybe within the year I’ll be blogging about my own personal experience taking placenta supplements.
I had a friend who had been a surrogate twice already. She got me thinking on it. I had had such easy pregnancies and was looking for a way to use my own special “talents” to help someone else. I asked her out for a cup of coffee and picked her brain. She told me she thought I’d make a great surrogate. I’m happily married with two children and no plans for more. I’ve always been perfectly healthy, and my husband had a vasectomy after our second child. “No more kids than hands” was our motto. We love them both dearly and they are such perfect little clones of each of us, that we felt complete as a family. To be able to give that to someone else was such a mind-blowingly easy choice to make. My husband, kids, friends and family were all on board as well. Knowing all that; I submitted my application to Surrogate Alternatives (SAI) and began the process.
I met my first couple back in December of 2008. They were a lovely German couple who had been trying in many different ways to conceive for almost a decade. My heart just reached out to them. We instantly hit it off and began our journey together. Unfortunately, after many attempts, roadblocks and heartache they decided to stop trying. It was just too much for them and I completely understood. They told me it was nobody’s fault, just a lot of bad luck and that if they ever wanted to try again they’d choose me in a heartbeat. It was tough for me, but in retrospect I’m so glad it went this way because I now knew what could happen and was able to be mentally prepared for it. We are still good friends to this day.
SAI then placed me with another couple in September of 2011. They were a wonderful gay couple from Australia who had already had twins via surrogacy and wanted a younger sibling to complete their family. This time around it was easy-breezy! They had frozen embryos from their last time. We only used one and on the first attempt that little embryo stuck! Both they and I were amazed and overjoyed. My pregnancy was so easy too. Everything ran like clockwork with absolutely no hiccups. These guys were so supportive every step of the way. We exchanged emails, phone calls and communicated through Skype. I would give the guys updates and ultrasound pictures and we would chat about our lives. They even made it out for a couple of doctor visits and our families got to go to Disneyland together! My kids loved the fact that we were helping them have a baby and bragged to everyone they could about it.
On September 23rd 2012 (which also happens to be the Founder of SAI’s birthday) their beautiful, perfectly healthy, little baby girl was born. I was just about a week early so they made it out the day after I delivered and were greeted with the newest member of their family. I was surprised at just how helpful and accommodating the hospital here was towards the whole surrogate situation. They made everyone feel so comfortable and the process ran smoothly. After the family got all the required paperwork done they went home with their little one and we still exchange emails and they send me super cute pictures of her.
I had such a warm feeling regarding every aspect of my journey that after I healed from my delivery I spoke with my husband and we decided we’d like to help another couple. All of the shots, doctor’s appointments, etc. is so worth it for the payoff of seeing a parent hold their child for the first time. Everyone who longs for a child of their own and to become a parent should have the opportunity; and I want nothing more than to be able to make that dream come true. I’ve been blessed with strong fertility and I have no desire for any more children of my own, so why shouldn’t someone else who is in need benefit from my help? It’s as simple as that.
As of this week, my contracts are signed with another gay couple and I’ve started injections. The embryo transfer should take place in Mid-March. This couple is local! It’s also their first rodeo and they are so elated to be starting a family! I can’t wait because this will be a totally different experience for all of us involved. Wish us luck and positive, sticky thoughts 🙂
This is a call for help to all women who enjoy being pregnant and who would love to help others. Have you ever considered becoming a surrogate mother? It just may be something that could change your life! You could help build a family from the ground up and be emotionally and financially rewarded in the process.
A surrogate mother is a special woman who helps others who physically cannot carry a child themselves. She, through IVF (In-vitro Fertilization), carries another’s person’s child in her womb and relinquishes that child to the Intended Parents when the child is born. A surrogate mother is a selfless angel helping others in their quest to become parents.
Surrogate Alternatives, Inc. (SAI) has the best “surro-sister” mentoring program in the world. These women have all been surrogates themselves and work alongside new surrogate mothers every step of the way. There are monthly support group meetings, family events and weekend retreats twice a year for all of their surrogate mothers to attend. The staff are always available to answer any and all questions you have and even attend doctor visits with you if you so desire. They hold hands and guide lives. Every woman has a different experience. Some carry twins, some help IP’s from around the world, some want a little involvement others want a lot. The additional support that SAI provides enriches every one of these journeys.
SAI needs you! If you meet the following criteria for their program, call them today!
1) You have to have given birth to at least one of your own and are raising that child
2) You cannot be not on welfare, AFDC or housing assistance.
3) You are between the ages of 21-40 (if you are older than 38, you have to have delivered in the past two years).
4) You cannot have had any serious medical conditions during your pregnancy or delivery.
5) You must be able to provide medical and delivery records, if requested.
6) You must have a vehicle and a valid driver’s license to be able to attend your doctor appointments.
7) You must be willing to be tested for STD’s and undergo a drug screening.
8) You must have a stable residence with no plans of moving out of your state from the time you submit your application to delivery.
9) You must agree to a background check and a psychological screening.
The total fees you receive are between $35,000-$50,000. Repeat surrogate fees are higher. Keep in mind that this is just an estimate for pain and suffering and reimbursement. If you are solely relying on this as income, this is not the “job” for you.
Becoming a surrogate mother is not for everyone. Those who choose to become surrogates are uniquely special women. Some of these ladies find the experience so richly rewarding that they choose to continue on and help more than one couple.
If you think YOU could be someone’s angel and give them ultimate gift: the gift of sacrifice, compassion and love; you may just have what it takes to be a surrogate mother. The rewards go above and beyond any monetary gain and it is an experience you will never forget.
If you feel you are that kind of person, apply with SAI today and see where this path takes you.
SAI’s office number is (619) 397-0757
Have you heard about this? A gynecologist in India has been charged with human trafficking and forgery after selling a baby using fake surrogacy papers. He and his “clients” have been making the international headlines for the past couple of months and it looks as if this has been going on for some time now. Dr. Bharat Atit, along with three of his staff, were arrested and booked after it was discovered that a newborn baby had been illegally sold via the Doctor by a woman and her boyfriend. Now they are investigating previous claims and more cases are coming to light.
The woman involved, claimed rape towards her boyfriend when she was 5 months pregnant. It was discovered that she had done this because they were arguing over the price of the child and she is to use this claim to cut the boyfriend’s percentage. Once this was found out she dropped the charges, however, this opened the investigation to that of the Doctor.
This newest scandal involving surrogacy in India raises the issue of legality when it comes to these delicate waters. India has had issues before dealing with the health and treatment of their surrogates during prenatal care and the backgrounds of the women that were being used.
India was a place that was considered to be “a great deal” to go to for people looking to start an “inexpensive” family which made it easy for some, to turn a blind eye to the murkiness involved. However, with these new legal issues piled on top of the old health ones, they may be losing their drawing power for even those with lesser morals.
First, it is used as a method of human trafficking. Second, the surrogates are treated like cattle. Yes, it is cheaper, but at what cost? This is a child we are discussing. A child carried by a person no less important or critical to the process than the intended parent. Having a child when you physical aren’t able to is tricky enough, without weighing on your conscience as well. People are now coming to realize it’s not worth the gamble of saving money. This is a child we are talking about and ensuring that child has the best start in life starts at conception.
Overall, India doesn’t seem to present a viable option for surrogacy now to those who were able to justify their means to an end before.
As I am doing research for this blog I have also just learned that India has now implemented new guidelines this year which no longer allow foreigners of same-sex couples, single individuals, unmarried couples or couples who have been married less than two years to commission a surrogate there. Also, if you did qualify to utilize their surrogacy programs, you would still be required to provide a letter from your countries government expressly giving you permission to bring your child home from India and that your country would agree to recognize this child as a product of a surrogacy pregnancy and birth.
I think the chapter on surrogacy in India is closing, and very quickly. After everything, it is my opinion this is for the best.