When I started my series “Ordinary People doing Extraordinary things”, I approached my friend Nici to share her story. She’s kind, accepting, interesting, extremely talented, funny, and creative. We met working together years ago and I was so thrilled that she was open to sharing her journey as a surrogate. I’m so in awe of what she’s doing and helping a couple have a child of their own. Be ready to be inspired by Nici! I know I am! If you have a story you want to share my email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Renee: How did you find out about surrogacy?
Nici: Besides mainstream media through my friend who owns Canadian fertility Consultants. I now work with her and run a program called Sacred Surrogacy as a support for surrogates.
Renee: What interested you the most about becoming a surrogate?
Nici: Initially it was about challenging myself and having a better understanding what the women I support experience. Of course giving the most profound and amazing gift to a family was also a huge reason for me.
Renee: How did you decide on the couple?
Nici: It was funny. One night I was laying in bed looking through my work page and their profile popped up and I don’t know what it triggered in me but I just knew it was them. I hadn’t even signed up to be a surrogate yet.
Renee: What is the process?
Nici: It’s quite lengthy with a lot of instances of hurry up and wait but in a nutshell. You do an intake call where you establish what is important for you in this journey, what kind of family you want to work with, your deal breakers etc. Typically you get matched pretty quickly as there are a lot of families waiting. Once matched you get to know one another and decide if you would like to move forward. You need to have a police reference check, previous birth records read, a psychological screening and a physical screening. Once everything comes back ok you can move onto contracts. Once that is complete the fertility lawyer sends notification to the fertility clinic stating that you have a legal contract and can move forward. From there you get a cycle calendar and begin your medication to prepare yourself for IVF.
Renee: What was the process of getting pregnant? How did it work?
Nici: Some intended parents already have their embryos ready to go. In our case the egg donor my intended parents worked with was doing her screening and contracts at the same time as me. Once all that is settled, embryos are made and sometimes tested. I started my medication a few weeks before transfer and headman appointments to check to see that my body was responding well to them (mostly checking my uterine lining). If all looks well you go for your embryo transfer. Depending on what clinic you work with you can start going for pregnancy blood work as early as 4 days post transfer. If the IVF treatment was successful then you continue your medication 10-12 weeks into your pregnancy.
Renee: I know lots of people were involved in making this baby! How did the implantation go down? How does it work with a donor egg, the father’s sperm and the surrogate?
Nici: We had two transfers because the first one was not successful. Thankfully I was able to try again on my next cycle and it worked! It was a beautiful experience because one of my intended fathers flew in from France to be with me. the procedure itself I’d say is less “offensive” than a pap test. You watch the entire things go down which is pretty amazing. You get to see the embryo on a screen and then watch the ultrasound screen as they implant it. It looks like a little burst of light, or shooting star as it happens. It’s kinda surreal to watch the exact moment you become pregnant. Our donor was anonymous so I personally have never met her, but I’m incredibly thankful for her. Intended parents decide who’s sperm is used for the embryos. Sometimes donor sperm is also used.
Renee: Can you share some information on the journey thus far?
Nici: I don’t know if it’s karma or what, but this has certainly been my easiest pregnancy. The medication aspect wasn’t my favourite, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was happy when it was over. My relationship with my intended parents is unlike any relationship I’ve ever had. Its incredibly intimate, and loving, and very much like family. I know it’s not everyone preference but it’s been so fulfilling for me. Even though they are so far away we’ve managed to see each other in person every 3 months since we started this process. I was able to attend their wedding in February and it was one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had. To sum it up, I feel incredibly lucky. I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant with a little french miss.
Renee: What are the plans for the birth?
Nici: They will be arriving here mid May. I’m expected to deliver around the 25. Our plan is to have the baby at the birth centre. My care providers are some amazing midwives who have been incredibly supportive. IF we need be transferred to the hospital we will deliver at Mt. Sinai. My intention is to have them in the room when their daughter is born, but in the moment its completely up to their comfort level. I’m actually very excited about it. I can’t wait to see their faces the moment they get to hold their baby.
Renee: Do you have a plan for your relationship with the family once the child is born?
Nici: In the short term, they have rented a house very close to us so that I can breastfeed and pump for them. We want to be able to spend time together in the few weeks they will be here after her birth. After that I will be Aunty Nici and we are hoping to visit at least once a year and keep in contact as much as anyone who has a new baby can.
Renee: How did you approach the subject of becoming a surrogate with your husband?
Nici: Having friends in the surrogacy world, he knew it was only a matter of time. I had spoken to him about it for about a year before I decided to “take the plunge” .But my waiting had nothing to do with him. I wasn’t ready yet. He was a great listener and someone to talk my feelings out with. He’s been nothing but a dream through this entire process and he also loves my intended parents.
Renee: How did you explain what you are doing to your kids?
Nici: I didn’t really sugar coat it. I just told them plain and simple and they fully understood. They have been very involved in the process. It was important me that they got to know my intended parents. I also got a book called “what makes a baby” and it was great for my 4 year old.
Renee: What were your family and friends reactions when you told them what you were doing?
Nici: Almost 100% positive. For some it took a bit of getting used to but once they saw how happy this made me and once they met my intended parents how could they not be happy for them. I think the biggest issue was when people in my family thought it was my egg, but once they found out that it was a donor that seemed to take away most of the “worry”.
Renee: I know that Canadian’s can’t make money off of surrogacy like other places. What do you feel draws someone in becoming a surrogate?
Nici: So many reasons. For me it was truly my intended parents. I just wanted to be the person to give them a baby. I can’t really explain it. Many people have friends or family who have had troubles with fertility and they are inspired to help create families. Some people have not had the births they were hoping for and want to try again, but may not want to have any more children of their own. Some people just LOVE being pregnant and it’s relatively easy for them.
Renee: If someone wants more information on becoming a surrogate where can they get more information?
Renee: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Nici: A common comment that I often heart surrogates is “how can you give your baby away”? Women in the surrogacy process are physically screened to see if they can have children and it’s quite a lengthy process. Trust me, if they wanted to have children they wold do it the easy way. I certainly don’t feel in any way like this is my baby. I feel incredibly different from mother pregnancies. I feel connected to her and I love her for sure, but as I would love my niece,or best friends baby. It feels like I’m giving her back.