Being a surrogate – what is it really like? Part 4&5

Part 4: Delivery Day!

How was the birth?

Anna: “The labour was extremely quick, so quick that Michael and Jerome almost missed it! I wanted an epidural but there wasn’t enough time because I was fully dilated when the doctor went to administer it, which nobody realised. I’d had a doctor’s appointment the day before, which Michael and Jerome had come along to, so luckily they were still in the area when I went into labour! They made it in the end and Jerome cut the cord and held Rupert for the first time, which was fantastic because I wanted them to bond straight away. After the birth we were all put in a suite with an adjoining door so that I stayed in one room and Michael, Jerome and Rupert stayed in the other until I we were all discharged. The hospital had a policy where we had to “exchange” the baby outside of the hospital, which was a bit strange but we were all happy to just go along with it!”

How did you feel when you left the hospital?

Anna: “I felt relieved!! I had thought I might feel a bit upset or emotional, but actually it was a weight off my shoulders. I was so happy for Michael, Jerome and Rupert and just felt happy that our part had been done”

Daniel: “During the pregnancy, we had such a sense of responsibility to make sure that Anna was healthy and happy and that the baby was safe that it was nice to feel we had played our part”

Anna: “Towards the end of the pregnancy, when I was heavily pregnant and everything felt uncomfortable I did wonder if it was all worth it and I wondered if perhaps I wasn’t as noble as I thought I was, but as soon as the baby was born it was such a beautiful feeling for everyone and I didn’t regret it at all!”

How is your relationship now with Michael, Jerome and Rupert and have you agreed to keep in touch?

Daniel: “We hope it continues! If Michael and Jerome don’t want it to, we will respect that but we think that it will. We’re going to stay with them next week, so we hope we will stay friends!”

Anna: “We have a great relationship at the moment and really hope it continues!”

Part 5: Reflections

Is there anything you wish had happened differently throughout your surrogacy journey?

Anna: “Unfortunately we had a bit of an unpleasant experience with some of the people at the clinic we went to for treatment. They weren’t very sensitive and it made me wonder how they treated other patients who were there because of fertility problems. In an ideal world it would be nice if the whole process could be quicker, but I do understand that you can’t really rush any of it.”

Daniel: “Especially for the intended parents – they are so keen for things to happen quickly, they’ve done their research and they’re ready to go. But it’s really important to make sure that everyone is well prepared, genuine and have had enough time to think everything through properly. You need time to build friendship and trust”

Anna: “I don’t want to sound greedy, but I don’t think it would hurt if surrogates could be given more compensation. It affected the lives of four people in my life (Daniel, Bella, my mum and me) and sometimes a lot of sacrifice was needed from them, so it would be nice  for that to be reflected.”

On the subject of compensation for surrogates, what do you think of the current system in the UK, and do you think that recognised agreements and compensation would be a good or bad thing for surrogacy?

Anna: “I think it would be a good idea. People always have a choice – if they don’t want to be compensated for surrogacy that’s fine, but if they do they can still feel valued. People talk about surrogates being exploited, but in reality it’s the intended parents who are more vulnerable from the very beginning. The position at the moment is that there is no guarantee that intended parents will ever get their baby because of the legal status of the surrogate being considered the mother from birth, before the intended parents go through the parental order. It will help to introduce legally recognised agreements so that parents, who have already been through so much, will have some degree of security. Let’s be honest, surrogacy is only going to go forward and to grow because people will always need an alternative way to complete their families, so it feels like we’re just delaying the inevitable.”

Would a more formal agreement have tainted your relationship with Michael & Jerome or Rupert?

Anna: “Not at all. If I hadn’t have wanted to work with them, I wouldn’t. If we hadn’t have created a bond based on friendship and trust, I wouldn’t have gone ahead. It’s not just about the money – even if I’d have been paid £50K I wouldn’t have done it without the friendship. Some women will of course want to do it just for the money, but that’s where Brilliant Beginnings comes in to screen surrogates, make sure they are mentally prepared and that they are doing it for the right reasons and their intentions are good and honest. The women that aren’t doing it for the right reasons are identified by Brilliant Beginnings and removed from the process, which is already happening, so I think formalising things would just offer additional security for everyone. Of course, some people will take the view that this would just be a way for companies and lawyers to make money, but would you rather pay a lawyer or an agency a fee for peace of mind and to know that the baby born at the end of it will be yours, or would you rather pay £15K to a surrogate without support and have that uncertainty through the whole process that she might not hand the baby over? Suddenly an additional amount for the right support doesn’t seem that much in the grand scheme of things. There is a lot of misunderstanding around surrogacy – when I was pregnant, a lot of people didn’t even realise it was legal, but once I explained they were really interested and surprised to hear that it is legal. Unfortunately all you ever hear are stories where surrogacy has gone wrong – no one is ever interested in good stories!”

Is there any advice you would give to other people who are considering surrogacy?

Daniel: “Do your research! Think it through properly and get a good understanding of the process and how it will impact your lives”