So, The Electrician and I are going to be parents, via gestational surrogacy.
Hold on–nobody is pregnant right now. Certainly not me. I just say that we are “going to be” parents because that’s what we truly believe. We are well into the process of making our family real, so I figured it was time to share.
If you are new or simply forgetful and don’t understand why I don’t just grow my own baby, feel welcome to catch up here.
My plan over the next while is to bring you with me on this process, as we get closer and closer to our goal. Today, I thought answering the questions we hear most often might be a reasonable start.
What is gestational surrogacy?
There are two kinds of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. Traditional surrogacy is the kind that has existed since pre-biblical times. The resulting child is genetically related to the surrogate and to the father. These days, we’re extra classy and most of us know this approach as the “turkey baster” method.
Fun fact for fellow Canadians: very, very few fertility doctors in Canada will agree to assist in traditional surrogacy arrangements because they can be so fraught with emotional and legal issues. From what I’ve read, traditional surrogacies happen quietly and legally on a fairly regular basis here despite the lack of direct medical support.
We have chosen gestational surrogacy, so the child(ren) that are created will be genetically mine and my husband’s. The surrogate, or gestational carrier, is not related to the baby and grows it as a host uterus. We like to call this the “our bun, her oven” approach.
How did you find your surrogate?
I’ll be telling this story in more detail coming up, but we were introduced by a mutual friend, to whom I will forever be grateful. In Canada, advertising for a gestational carrier is very shaky legal ground, and we are committed to colouring 100% inside the lines as we build our family. Agencies that offer surrogacy are also most likely operating illegally under third party reproduction laws. We are steering clear, clear, clear of that territory by going it alone.
How much is this going to cost?
In a word: heaps. In four words: less than you think.
We are responsible for the IVF treatments needed to create our embryos, for the costs of transferring those embryos to our surrogate, medications, time off work for the three of us, and the list goes on and on and on. The item that burns the most is hospital parking fees, but I think that may be a rant for another time.
It’s really important to me that I distinguish, however, that we aren’t paying someone to grow our sprout. I have a visceral, negative reaction to the idea of “purchasing” a child. It is forbidden under Canadian law for intended parents to pay a fee to the surrogate for her work gestating their child. We are permitted only to reimburse our carrier for expenses she incurs during the process, like maternity clothes, medications, and the difference between her maternity leave pay and her full salary.
Aren’t you worried this woman will try to keep your baby?
First, our gestational carrier, lovingly nicknamed “Auntie Stork” by The Electrician and me, has our complete and total trust. She is an astonishing and beautiful person, who is already an awesome mom, and we have no doubt that she is doing this for the right reasons.
I would never and could never go through this process with a person I did not trust. Period. Would you leave your kids with a shady babysitter you thought might take off with them and leave no forwarding address? Not a chance. This is somewhat similar.
In Canada, where surrogacy arrangements are strictly not-for-profit, there has never been a recorded case of the carrier attempting to keep custody of the baby. I felt better reading that statistic in the time before we knew Auntie Stork. Now I just smile and tell curious and concerned individuals that it’s all good because of who she is.
Why don’t you just adopt?
I hate this phrase. Truly. I will be writing more on the subject at a later time, but I am disturbed by the number of people who suggest adoption is simple, easy, and should be the first choice for people who experience infertility. “Just” as a modifier downplays the difficult, lengthy, and expensive process that is modern adoption: this approach to building a family deserves far more respect than the phrase “just adopt” implies.
Adoption is a beautiful thing, and we applaud every adoptive parent out there and wish the best for you and your family.
For several reasons, adoption is not the path we have chosen to create our family at this time. This decision is highly personal, and is one The Electrician and I arrived at after a great deal of soul-searching, research, and discussion.
When will you bring home your baby?
Right now, I have no firm timeline. We are hoping for as soon as possible, but there are a few more medical steps and a number of legal steps that need to take place before we can get a bun in the oven. The formula right now is x + 40 weeks = sprout, and we cannot currently define x.
What I can tell you, however, is that The Electrician and I recently conquered an IVF cycle. We have beautiful embryos in the freezer that are ready to thaw and bake–technically, “vitrify and gestate” for the science types in the crowd. Given the success of our cycle and the A+ rating our reproductive endocrinologist recently gave Auntie Stork’s uterus, there will be a baby; we just don’t know exactly when.
And, friends, that is what I know right now. Stay tuned for more details about our gestation surrogacy experiences, including how I conquered my intense fear of needles to manage IVF treatment, and stories about the number of people who have complimented my husband’s sperm in the past few months.
It’s a strange, wonderful time.