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  • Writer's pictureHive Surrogacy

My Journey as a Surrogate: Navigating the Beautiful Complexity

Not all families look the same and I’m here to help share my experience! Hi I’m Shannon and I’d like to share a bit about how surrogacy works in Canada, the first question I get is “how much money do you make?” The answer is short NOTHING! But I’ll touch on that later! Firstly, I’ve been a surrogate 3 times and the reward is amazing!! Watching the parent(s)meet the child they never could have had on their own is something that I can barely explain! The first time I had a child for a couple I couldn’t quite grasp how or why they were so amazed by me, it’s something that was so easy…. for me. Then it hit me, so many of us take pregnancy and carrying a baby to term for granted, I sure did and did think that what I was doing (having a baby) was no big deal, but it IS!

Our bodies go through massive changes in a normal pregnancy, but with a surrogacy your body requires a lot more. You see when you’re a surrogate in most scenarios you’re “just” the oven, meaning their embryo and your uterus. The intended parents create an embryo and it is transferred into the surrogates uterus, this means that the surrogates body will not welcome it to stay without hormones to “trick” our bodies into thinking this is our baby and it’s ok to stay and grow happily inside us! When I say hormones, I mean the surrogate will take a combination of estrogen and progesterone in the form of pills, injections, suppositories, patches until the body is happy to manage the hormone production on its own. That usually happens around the 10-12 week point. So there is A LOT of science behind it! There is a lot of perfect timing and testing and time at the clinic too. Some of the testing involves, bloodwork, Hysterosonogram (comprehensive examination of the uterus, ovaries, and pelvis using ultrasound. Normal ultrasound showing normal endometrial lining (arrowheads). Catheter (curved arrow) and balloon (arrow) are inside the uterus) in layman’s terms it’s to make sure the uterine lining is juicy! A full physical examination to make sure you body is capable and healthy for surrogacy, a complete psychiatric evaluation to make sure you’re mentally prepared and stable, a full intake by a member of a surrogacy agency which gives all the information you need/want about all the ins and outs of surrogacy.

A member of the surrogacy team will be assigned to you to help you 24-7 there WILL be questions no matter how prepared you are, and they will be there to answer them or guide you to someone who can. The support through an agency is so important and amazing, you are part of a community and the resources are endless.

I digress, back to the tests, you will also have your regular doctors visits, glucose testing, ultrasounds and measurements like a regular pregnancy too. Often times you will stay with your fertility clinic until 10-12 weeks for closer monitoring and then when you graduate you’ll use a healthcare provider of your choice, OBGYN, midwife or your GP. It’s always good to have whichever provider you choose in loop of what you’re doing and have your clinic forward all and any information regarding your surrogacy to them, I’ve found it was a lot easier of a transition to have them overlap a bit so there were no gaps or issues with the transition phase. Once you’ve transitioned the pregnancy is basically the same as a “normal” pregnancy, no more meds except the regular prenatals. Sometimes and this can occur with any pregnancy, you need something more, iron, extra B or D vitamins etc, but your care provider will let you know if you need anything extra. As a surrogate YOU WILL NEED TIME OFF for doctors appointments, and there are a lot, from the psychiatrist, lining checks, bloodwork, appointments, ultrasounds, transfers, check ups, and then the regular stuff too, so it’s nice to let your family know what you’re doing so they have an idea and can prepare and be ready to support you for this too. Having a good supportive network be it the surrogacy agency, family, and friends is always great in a normal situation and even better during a surrogacy. Your intended parents are usually very supportive too, but sometimes they are far away so they can only do so much, so it’s always good to have extra.

You may wonder HOW can someone do all this, there are a lot of expenses surrounding this as a surrogate?! Well that’s another layer of it, you will have a lawyer draft up a surrogacy agreement that the surrogate and intending parent(s) all can agree on, now there are strict AHRA guidelines you must follow (The Assisted Human Reproduction Act is law enacted by the Parliament of Canada. Its purpose is to regulate assisted human reproduction and related research. It is one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation in the world concerning reproductive technologies and related research.) but it’s there to protect the surrogate and intended parents. The surrogate will pay out of pocket then is reimbursed by the intended parent(s) There are guidelines of what you can and cannot be reimbursed for, examples are hotel stays for appointments, travel expenses such as food, train/plane transportation, medications, childcare for said appointments, % of food cost, housekeeping for bed rest or late pregnancy, clothing for your growing body, communication costs, prenatal yoga, doula support, pelvic floor therapy, the list goes on, but, both the intended parent(s) and surrogate must come to a decision that works for them both and is within the AHRA guidelines the contracts are signed and both are expected to keep up their end of the contract. There is A LOT of trust that goes into to this too! Now I want to add that the cap for monthly reimbursements are about $2,500-$3,500, which seems like a lot, but things add up quickly!! I didn’t realize this until I had to keep track of every receipt, track km’s and add up days off work! By AHRA regulations the surrogate MUST provide receipts and documentation for any reimbursements, then the agency is required to go over them with a fine tooth comb to verify what’s being asked to be reimbursed is within the AHRA guidelines. Again this is A LOT of work!! A surrogate should NEVER be out of pocket!

This journey is something out of this world, there is so much that goes into this, but in the end it’s all worth it!! Watching the process from the outside is probably crazy, people ask me all the time WHY do I do this, you must be crazy!! But the moment you get to see those parents meet their child is something else! It’s made me realize how very precious it is to be a woman who can carry a child, that I was so lucky to be able to just decide one day I wanted a family and just have one. The moment you become a parent is life changing and for many it’s impossible to do on their own, but like they say it takes a village to raise a child, well sometimes it takes a village to make one too. I’m so proud and honoured to be able to say I’ve helped 2 couples become families and if I could I’d keep doing it over and over again!! It makes me so much more grateful for the family I have and just how amazing my children are. Through this process I have inspired others to be a surrogate or at least toss the idea around, I’ve helped to educate people about the process (you’d be surprised what a complete stranger will ask, but I’m happy to share) I think I’ve helped my children to be more understanding, humble and selfless. This isn’t just about having a baby it’s so much more than that.

I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences with surrogacy in the comments below. Let's continue the conversation and support one another on this beautiful journey.

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