WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A SURROGATE MOTHER?
Some decisions in life are very straightforward and require very little contemplation. Still, other decisions require a great deal of forethought because they are fraught with complicated issues. For most women, the decision about becoming a gestational surrogate would fall in the latter category.
The fact that you are reading this information is likely indicative of your own curiosity about the surrogate experience. It’s not something you can read about in a book. It’s not something with which the males in your life can help you. No, the only realistic way to learn what is it like to be a surrogate mother. That is from the experts who have been involved directly in the process or those who have been there and done that.
In the sections below, we would like to get you started down the path of surrogacy with some information about the questions you should be asking yourself and others. Choosing to be a surrogate is a very serious matter. At the same time, it’s a gracious decision because of the great gift you would be giving to intended parents who might not otherwise have an opportunity to be parents. Indeed, you just considering something like this is a testament to your heart and character.
Things to Be considered and Done Prior to the Actual Pregnancy
Prior to filling out an application to become a gestational surrogate, you need to be asking important questions, some of yourself and some of others. These aren’t the kinds of questions you can ask after the process has started. Here is a series of questions to which you should try to get answers.
What is my motivation for wanting to serve as a surrogate?
Every woman who ever walked the path of being a gestational surrogate had their own reasons for doing so. For some, there were financial considerations. For others, it boiled down to them wanting to be of service to others who needed and wanted something special. Yes, some women just love everything about being pregnant and surrogacy gives them the opportunity to do that without increasing the size of their family.
Can I commit to the process?
From beginning to end, the entire surrogacy process could take a year. To fully commit to it, you would need to consider the physical strain that would be put on your body and the emotional strain that could evolve as you contemplate giving up a baby you have been carrying for nine months. You would also have to commit to relationship building with the intended parents and all of the fertility treatments you would need to undergo. There is a lot more to this question than meets the eye.
Do I have the mental and emotional fortitude to carry a baby and hand the baby over to someone else the moment it is born?
This is a gut-check question. No one can advise you here. To answer this question, you have to be honest with yourself and do some soul searching. Our advice is do it now before you get too involved in the process.
4. Is being a surrogate worth it?
This is an easier question to answer. If your motivations align with the outcome, it will be worth it. At the absolute least, you will have given something to intended parents that very few women have the capacity to give them. From that, you would likely get some sense of pride and fulfillment. That’s a lot to get from the gift of giving.
If after asking questions you are still on board with going through the process, you would get an opportunity to find your surrogacy match. It can be a tedious process because most intended parents are going to have particular standards to which they want their surrogate to meet. You would also get a great deal of input regarding the intended parents you would choose to serve.
After finding a good match, you would need to go through the development of a contract between yourself and the intended parents. The contract would lay out the guidelines for compensation, reimbursements, timing, and the expectations between the two parties before, during, and after the pregnancy.
Once the contract is signed, you would need to go through an intense screening process. Both your physical and mental health would fall under scrutiny. Here are some of the qualifications you would need to me for final acceptance as a surrogate with our agency:
- Be between the ages of 21 and 40
- Be of sound mind and body with no material medical or mental health issues
- Not be a user of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. You might be required to stop using certain prescription medications
- Must have been through at least one other healthy pregnancy with no history of pregnancy issues
- Must currently be raising a small child of at least 6 months old while no longer breastfeeding
- Must be reasonably financially secure with little to no government assistance
- Must have reliable transportation and a stable home environment
- No criminal history
Our strict standards are for the protection of everyone concerned with the process. That includes you, the baby, the intended parents, and the agency/fertility clinic. If everything is a go, a schedule would be created for you to start fertility treatments and the embryo implantation process.
Before we move on to the actual pregnancy, we just want to remind you to strongly consider the thoughts and feelings of your partner. After all, they too will be going through this process at a mental and emotional level.
What to Expect During the Pregnancy
Since you have already gone through at least one healthy and successful pregnancy, you pretty much know what to expect physically absent complications. What you most likely would not be ready for is the emotional and mental piece of the puzzle as it relates to giving up the baby.
Carrying a baby to term for someone else is very different than the baby being your prize at the end of the pregnancy. From the moment you get pregnant until the baby is handed to the intended parents, you would need to stay in close touch with your feelings and emotions. Hopefully, the screening process gave you time to mentally prepare to be a surrogate.
Is it hard to be a surrogate mother? For some women, it’s very easy. We have also seen plenty of women struggle through the process. Everyone who chooses this path is a little different. That’s okay because we are always here to listen and help in any way that we can.
What most former surrogates report is that having the right mindset from the very beginning helps to lessen the bond during pregnancy. They simply reminded themselves of what they were doing and their motivation for doing so.
If you were to find yourself getting to attached, there are some things you could do to lessen your anxiety over eventually letting go. One way would be for you to view the process through the eyes of the intended parents. In all likelihood, they too will be going through a lot of anxiety. Here are some suggestions that might help them as well as yourself:
- Create for the intended parents the same pregnancy mementos you might prepare for yourself
- Create an environment at home that might be similar to the environment the baby would be going to with the intended parents. Ask the intended parents what they cook, what kind of music they listen to, and what the noise levels are in the household. All of this would especially help the baby with the transition
- People will ask so be confident in your explanation of what you are doing and why you are doing it
- Prepare yourself now for the possibility of it being an emotional process for you. Feeling a little anxious about the process is a very normal reaction to such an experience
One last thing. It would be very helpful for you to communicate with all interested parties as much as possible during the pregnancy. That would include the intended parents and your family members. The more they understand about the process and how you are feeling, the more comfortable they would likely be.
After the pregnancy, there is a whole range of emotions you might feel. Hopefully, you would feel the same joy that the intended parents will definitely feel after receiving such a wonderful gift. After all, you are the one that will have given them that gift. Always remember, you will have provided a baby to a man/woman/couple who couldn’t have had a child on their own. It took something special inside of you to have arrived at the decision to be someone’s gestational surrogate mother.
If you were to experience a little sense of loss and emptiness, you shouldn’t worry. Those would be very normal things to feel. In time, things will get better and you will have time to reflect on the great deed you will have done.
There might be questions about future contact with the intended parents and perhaps even the baby. Hopefully, this is something that would have been resolved during the contract negotiation process. Whatever is or was agreed upon would be exactly the guidelines you would need to follow. At all times, the baby’s best interests need to be everyone’s first concern.
With that said, you would owe it to yourself to make sure you get your life back on track after the experience. It would almost be certain that you would end up seeing the world and yourself through a different set of eyes. Your decision will have given rise to another family. That would be something you would take with you for the rest of your life.
We hope we have given you a little perspective on what is it like to be a surrogate mother. Since there is little chance we have been able to cover all of your concerns, we encourage you to contact us at your convenience or come to visit us, we are located in the state of Pennsylvania. We will be happy to answer any of your questions in the hope you will want to move forward towards the surrogate experience.