More and more men and women are starting to come forward and share their own stories of infertility. For the millions of men and women affected by infertility, these stories can really help to show they are not alone and that this is something many people -- more than they may even realize -- deal with too.
Along with these stories of infertility, many are also sharing stories of surrogacy -- both from the perspective of the surrogate carrying the child to the parents anxiously awaiting the birth.
A few years ago, one woman shared her story in the publication Women's Health. The process she describes -- along with her decision to carry someone else's child and the emotions that come along with this decision -- still ring true today.
The road to surrogacy
The woman was married with four children of her own. She knew she didn't want to add more children to her family, but missed being pregnant and wanted to give the true gift of joy that is parenthood to someone else.
Originally, she thought about being a surrogate for a family member -- her sister-in-law -- who was struggling to conceive. However, her sister-in-law did end up getting pregnant, but the idea of surrogacy stuck. Working with an agency, she was paired with an out-of-state same sex couple. After getting to know each other, they all decided to move forward with the surrogacy plan.
Preparing and transfer the embryos
Surrogacy is very much a medical process. In her case, both she and the egg donor went through daily injections for their bodies to be in sync. The surrogate was also injected with medication so the doctors could both control her hormone production and cycle -- while also preparing her body to accept an embryo.
After six weeks of shots, the eggs were retrieved from the ovum donor and then fertilized. The most viable embryos were then transferred into the uterus of the surrogate.
She ended up pregnant with twins.
Pregnancy, birth and beyond
Throughout her pregnancy, she shared what was happening -- first hiccups and kicks, for example -- with the dads-to-be. These same parents also came to almost all of her doctor appointments. And while they were not in the room for the actual delivery - her delivery was considered high risk so they could not be in the room -- they did watch the birth of their children from a glass window.
Since their birth, the fathers have continued to update the surrogate on how the children are. In her case, she likes this -- as do the fathers -- but those thinking of becoming a surrogate should know this is not a requirement and that it is perfectly normal and OK to stop communicating after the birth as long as it meets everyone's needs and expectations. Contact or no contact will all depend on the agreement the parents and surrogate come to in their gestational carrier agreement. This agreement happens prior to starting the surrogacy process.
Surrogacy agreements can be tailored
No two surrogacy arrangements or agreements need to be the same. What works for this specific woman who shared her story, may not work for you or the parents to be.
In her case, she was compensated for her services. The fathers paid her medical expenses and additional money. However, this is not the case for all families -- and in some states payment is even illegal.
You will want to make sure you have a firm grasp and understanding of the entire process and how everything will work before moving forward or signing any paperwork.