Surrogacy: How do You Ask Someone to Give up a Year of Their Life Growing a Child for You?

I am writing this post early in January of 2021. I’m not ready to go public with our surrogacy journey yet, but I know that at some point, someone may benefit and learn from our experience as they make a similar journey. I also know that it is easier to tell a story when it’s relatively fresh in your mind than after it’s been muddled by time. Considering that my journey towards surrogacy really started in August of 2020, I think it’s time to write about it. If you haven’t already read The Start of Our Surrogacy Journey, I suggest you start there.

It was October of 2020 when Malcolm and I really discussed and started crunching the numbers and weighing the pro’s and con’s of surrogacy. We knew that the only way we had any hope of affording a surrogacy journey would be with an OHIP funded IVF Transfer. We also knew that if we did this we would want our gestational carrier (GC, the more common name for a surrogate) to be someone that we knew, trusted, and loved. The idea of having a stranger carry our baby just presented too many unknowns and the more I learned about agencies, the less I liked the idea of using one (but I won’t get into that here). For financial, and emotional reasons, and given the fact that over the years two amazing women who both ticked a lot of the boxes for being suitable GCs had offered, we decided that there was no harm in asking. But who should we ask first, and how do we do it? We made a spreadsheet, to help us visualize our decision process.

Our two potential GCs were our niece (my sister’s daughter), and our sister in law (Malcolm’s brother’s wife). Our niece checked all of the boxes except for being done having kids of her own and our sister in law checked all the boxes except that because she also has PCOS we didn’t know if she would be approved through the medical screening. Due to the fact that our niece was a bit younger, and had had her son a few years more recently, and because we didn’t yet know why GCs are recommended to be done having their own children before beginning a surrogacy journey, we decided to approach our niece first.

I spoke with our niece one on one. She let me know that she needed to think on it for a while, and I continued to investigate and try to understand as much as I could. From online groups, reading other blogs, and following some surrogacy accounts on Instagram I found out that there is an elevated chance of secondary infertility following surrogacy pregnancies, this means that the person is not able to either get pregnant on their own or that once pregnant they are unable to sustain the pregnancy.

At my next appointment with my doctor I discussed surrogacy with her and our options for GCs and she said that PCOS would not stop a GC who meets all the other criteria from being a surrogate. They are able to get women with PCOS pregnant through IVF all the time. Bearing that in mind, I had a conversation with my niece about it not necessarily being the right option for her at that time in her life and I asked her for her blessing to pursue surrogacy with my sister in law, she said that made sense and that the reason she had not been able to say yes was because she still wanted to have children of her own and that ideally she just wanted Malcolm and I to have the opportunity to raise a child earth-side. I totally understood and having first hand knowledge of infertility, I did not want to be the reason she couldn’t have more children of her own.

Malcolm and I knew that we were going to be seeing his brother, Dan, and our sister in law, Amber, over Christmas and we decided to wait until after Christmas before discussing the possibility of surrogacy with them. We didn’t want things to be awkward if they said no or if they needed time to think, and we also didn’t want them to feel obligated to agree since it was Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, Amber and I went out to grab a few last minute stocking stuffer items and had some time to just have a bit of a catch up conversation. I told her a bit about my current medical state and my upcoming hysterectomy, and then the conversation moved onto other things. As we were walking into the store, Amber said, “when I offered to be a surrogate for you, I meant it.” I was caught off guard and immediately I remembered how Malcolm and I had agreed that it was best to not mix this request up in Christmas, so I awkwardly said “Thanks, that’s really a conversation for not Christmas time.”

The rest of our Christmas (while smaller than usual due to the whole Covid thing) was really good. We had some fun games, exchanged gifts, took video for the people who couldn’t be here, ate some yummy food and just enjoyed our time together.

On December 27th, Malcolm and I set up a Zoom call in the morning. Despite her actually offering on her own just days prior, Malcolm and I were both nervous for the call. We knew that this was a big ask, and we wanted to make sure that Amber and Dan both were aware of the risks and what struggles we all might face if we chose to pursue this. Once again, an abstract is far different from a concrete plan. Amber and Dan were both on board. They had discussed a lot of hypotheticals about doing a surrogacy journey for us and they had a few questions, one of which was about what had caused us to change our minds about surrogacy… To distill that down into a simple answer, when I was faced with a reality where I will not have a uterus anymore, I had to accept that another pregnancy was not going to miraculously materialize for us and in order to accept what ever course our life takes from here, I needed to be able to say “I did all I could” and the OHIP funding along with Ontario’s acknowledgement of the rights of intended parents put surrogacy within the realm of possibility. So at this point, Malcolm and I both felt that it was worth a try if we could find a GC.

Dan suggested the idea of calling Amber a Baby Spaceship instead of gestational carrier, and Amber and I like it! So that’s what I’ve been using more often when I talk about this concept, and potential plan. On a more serious note, they wanted to talk to their kids and Amber’s doctor and take a bit of time before agreeing outright, but at the end of the call they were both eager to proceed with hope that it will all work out.

Over the next few days Amber texted me with updates. She was excited, her parents were happy and supportive. She contacted her doc about getting a referral to my clinic… Her appointment with her doctor is booked for April.

Malcolm and I will be meeting with Dr M2 next week and we will ask if there is any way to expedite Amber’s referral so that we can see if this will work. As it stands right now, barring any issues with the medical or mental health screenings, Amber will be our baby spaceship, and hopefully in a year I’ll be able to say that my sister-in-law is pregnant with my husband’s kid, and my niece and nephew will be able to say that their mom is pregnant with their cousin.

Welcome to Operation Baby Spaceship.

You can also follow our surrogacy journey on instagram @operation.babyspaceship

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