11 Things Surrogates Want You to Know | Iris

published on July 2, 2020

– I really like to make
sure people understand

that as a surrogate we are
not giving the baby up,

we're giving the baby back

[soft music]

– Most surrogates, they don't go into it

for the money because it's
just not worth it, honestly

– Doing all of the initial paperwork

and the screenings and the home visits,

a month of hormones before the pregnancy

and then three months of injections

when you're actually
pregnant to stay pregnant

and then that doesn't
even account for the birth

and then the six weeks postpartum after

If you divide the amount of money

that a traditional surrogate gets

it comes out to be like
less than minimum wage

So if you're looking for
money it's a lot easier

to go to McDonald's and
get a part time job

– Surrogates only get a
portion of what you're paying

because if you go through an agency

you're paying an agency
to find your surrogate,

you're paying an agency
to set up appointments

– I've been in the hospital for a month

during one of my pregnancies

I've had C-sections

It is honestly not worth the money

However, your family gives
up a lot during a pregnancy

and even during the part
before the pregnancy

Without the compensation
to get them on board

sometimes it's a little more difficult

My ex-husband would never have agreed

to be so understanding had
he not had some benefit

and for him the benefit was the money

My husband at the time
his grandmother said,

"So you're gonna let her
sleep with another man?"

So that was an interesting
explanation for grandma

to understand that no, that
was not going to happen,

that everything was gonna
happen in a doctor's office

I was not gonna have
relations with anyone else

and it took her a while
to understand the concept

– None of the babies
that I have ever carried

have been genetically linked to me

There's either been an egg donor

or the egg from the intended mother

which gets fertilized with
the husband or donor sperm

Then once the embryo is created
they put it inside of me

So I'm literally a house

I'm just carrying the baby
until it's ready to be born

– What do I love about being pregnant,

I love like the baby
just growing and kicking

and you just knowing that you're
creating a whole new life,

someone that could become president,

someone that could you know cure cancer

– Just to be able to carry a child,

to know that there is a living
human being inside of you

whose sole source of life
and basically survival

is contingent upon
yourself, it's incredible

When they say you know you
have that pregnancy glow,

it's definitely real

– I'm very lucky and I'm blessed,

my body just likes being pregnant

I've had relatively easy pregnancies

I won't say they've been a cakewalk

I've had nausea, I've had vomiting,

I've had an episode of preeclampsia

that required an induction,
but overall I know how many

women out there would kill to have

that first trimester heartburn,

so I don't take it for granted

– It is such an awesome feeling

and when it's your own children
it's a different feeling,

equally awesome, just different

When you're pregnant with a surrogate baby

your end goal is to see that baby

go home with their parents

When that happens it is such
an amazing accomplishment

I can't even describe it

It's just something that
if you've ever even thought

about becoming a surrogate
you should look into

– I never felt that emotional attachment

while carrying or even afterwards

and I think it's because
I know going into it

I'm doing this for someone else

You know I'm entering into this agreement

I am doing this to help
out another couple

Then while I'm pregnant I don't
refer to it as a pregnancy,

it's always the surrogacy

So it's almost like I somewhat
depersonalize the experience

– I never considered the baby my baby

and whenever I talked
to the parents I'm like,

"Okay your baby was doing this today

"Your baby was doing that today"

– I have two of my own children

and they do require that
you have at least one

of your own children before
you become a surrogate,

mostly so that you can know
what you're getting into

before you sign up for it

But also so that the doctors can be aware

of how your body is pregnant

– I have four of my own

When I started my children
were a little bit younger

and basically when I came
home from the hospital

they just said to me, "Mommy
you're not fat anymore"

So really I don't think they
really got the whole concept

– First surrogacy I
was pregnant with twins

and I was getting bigger by the day

and I would drop off my son at school

and one of his teachers asked him one day,

"What are you having a
brother or a sister?"

And he responded as most six
year olds would, "Cousins"

And it took some people by surprise

so we decided that the best thing to do

would be to kind of get everyone
together and explain it

So he brought me for show and tell

So my little guy stood up in
front of a classroom of friends

and parents and teachers and
in the sweetest little voice

said, "Auntie Melissa
and Uncle Brian's love

"made the babies, but her tummy was broken

"so mommy and me are carrying them

"and taking care of them until
they're ready to be born,"

and it was just that simple

Surrogacy explained by a six year old

– Children are very accepting

My daughter was probably five

and my youngest was one when I started

Midway through my pregnancy my
youngest was about 18 months

and if you asked him where,
my friend was pregnant,

if you asked him where her baby was

he would go to her belly
and he would pat her belly

And if you asked him where
my intended mom's baby was

he would look at her
and he would look at me

and he would come over
and he would pat my belly

So at 18 months old he
knew this was not our baby

– I've been in both
situations, I've been married

and in you know committed
relationships during surrogacies

and I've been single during surrogacies

This one I'm single, I'm
not in a relationship

and I have wonderful children
and great friends though

that are really supportive
and my little five year old

loves to read to him and
rub lotion on my belly

and get me ice chips and
so I don't really feel

like I'm alone, but being single

can make the surrogacy process
legally a little bit easier

But it can be challenging

for a surrogate when they're alone

– I was single for one

and then I was married through another

I actually was married when I started

At the end of the day I'm
completely confident in knowing

that the right person
is going to understand

my passion and my desire behind surrogacy

– The first family I worked
with they were in Paris

cause in Paris it's illegal

– I helped them complete a family

They had two boys of their own

and the intended mother
was diagnosed with MS

and so she was no longer able
to carry a child of her own

– This is something that
you're doing for somebody else

and you are intertwining your life

and your lifestyle with someone else

It's one of those things
where you have to be

congnizantly aware of the emotions

that the family may be
experiencing as well

– During a surrogate
pregnancy everything you do

impacts this child and it's profound

And sometimes that's difficult
for the intended parents

to lose that control

They don't know if
you're really eating well

and if you're exercising well
and doing the right things,

and not smoking and not drinking

So they have to have a
level of trust in you

But having that little
one fully dependent on you

is you know, it's an important job

– And I don't take it personally
or I don't feel attacked

when that intended parent, if
they're worried to the point

of where it seems like they're smothering

or however they're lashing out

I know that the underlying reason

and the underlying emotion is most likely

due to them not knowing, to
them just being a scared parent

Being concerned and wanting the best

for their child at the end of the day

and wanting to know that they
even made the right decision

with selecting me as a surrogate

So it's all about building that trust

I do provide breast milk
if it's something that

the intended parents are interested in

One of my intended parents
I would ship the milk

on dry ice which was
incredibly time consuming

and it wasn't the best or
efficient way I would say

So it can be challenging
once the individuals go back

and return to their homes

– This is the fourth
family that I'll be helping

and I'm currently 28 weeks pregnant

with a little boy for
an international father

who is from Italy

– The last journey I had
was for a single dad

Originally it was something
that I wasn't certain of

because I had always said,
"Well you know it's to help

"create families," you know
and then I started thinking

about it and a family
doesn't necessarily mean

that it has to consist of two parents

One person can be just as good of a parent

as having two individuals in the home

I think with him expressing
the desire within him,

not just with himself, but
within his family as well

for him to be a dad

I figured why not

I am definitely glad that I
did because even with seeing

his reaction in the hospital

when he was meeting his
son it was wonderful

– One of the questions that
I get often from people

is, "Is it difficult to give the baby up?"

They can't understand as a surrogate

how we can go through
a nine month pregnancy

and then give the baby up at the end

I really like to make
sure people understand

that as a surrogate we are
not giving the baby up,

we're giving the baby back

Intended parents trust us
with their most precious gift,

which is their baby or babies

and they entrust us to carry
that baby for nine months

and to nurture it and let it grow

and then we are grateful

for the opportunity to give it back

Occasionally there's some sadness

related to the end of a
pregnancy, which happens anyways

I get kind of attached
to feeling them kick

and having them inside,
but there's no sadness

when they go home

It's like gratitude

It's being grateful that
we're able to help them

It's joy for them getting
to bring a baby home

– When my first family left
the hospital with the baby,

just the way it worked out they left

a few hours before me

I cried, but I cried
because I was so happy

that they were leaving as a family

– It's hard to describe
because I went through

nine months being pregnant
with a baby that was not mine,

but to push that baby out,
go through all that pain

and see the smile on that parent's face

when they hold the baby
for the first time,

it's just, the feeling is
just out of this world

It's a completely different feeling

from you having your own child,

but it's a warm feeling

and it's a feeling that you have purpose

You didn't do it because
someone forced you to,

you just did it because
it was a selfless act

that you wanted to do to make
someone else's life better

– It is totally addicting

Watching these couples become families

that once it was only
a dream, it's amazing

And people going into surrogacy thinking

that they just want to
help one family is so rare

Once you help one family and you hear

somebody else's story you're like,

"I want to help them too"

I went into it thinking one and done

I thought, "Maybe if they wanted a sibling

"we might try again," we did

and then I was like "Well,
but I heard about this family

"and their story about
how long they've struggled

"and how they've had
failures," and you leave

and you're like "Oh my god I
have to do this 10 more times"

If I could do it once a year I would

– From the very beginning
I've been obsessed

with pregnancy and birth

It's always been my
dream to become a midwife

and I'm in graduate school
now to make that happen

so I'm really excited

To be on the other side of the table

and to stop pushing out babies

and start catching them instead

But I've always been in
awe of a woman's body

and the miracle of life,

like straight down to the cellular level

and all the little things
that have to happen

in order for a baby's conception

It's just a beautiful, amazing process

– What I typically tell
friends that are interested

in my story is that surrogacy
has given my life meaning,

it's given me purpose and
it's not for everybody,

but you know when I do
come across individuals

that are eager and incredibly interested

in my story and in learning

it's definitely something where I try to

kind of expose them and give them insight

because if it worked for me
then it can work for them

– Well I drive a school bus for a living

and I've been doing that for 10 years

So I basically love working with children,

but also it lets me be a full time mom

and do the things that I
need to do with my kids

God put me here to create three babies

for families who couldn't
create babies on their own

And I always think, like
I think people sit at home

and they're like "Why am I here?

"Why did God put me on this earth?"

And I kind of feel like
this is my purpose,

to be able to care for my kids

and to be able to carry
kids for other people

so that they can experience

what I experience everyday

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