Options for Infertility – Surrogacy

This story is shared with us from Heidi T.. She was the surrogate for a family struggling with infertility. Each paragraph is a journal entry of her experience. Thank you so much Heidi for sharing and for stepping out with courage to help this family!

Our Journey

First off, Josh and I are so blessed to have 3 healthy children. Prior to having our oldest daughter, we had 2 early miscarriages. As devastating and heartbreaking as that was, it is only a small glimpse of what our intended parents have experienced.

I never really thought I could be a surrogate. I heard of stories of surrogates but never really thought it could be my reality. After seeing a post on Facebook from CFC (Canadian Fertility Consulting), something sparked inside of me. I began thinking about it and researching surrogacy. Was it something I could do? From a religious perspective, was it something that I felt God pushing me to do? Could Josh give his all in this as well? What about our kids, how would they take it? We researched some more and I discussed it with my parents who were very surprised but positive and open to the idea. We also spoke with our pastor from church.  He hadn’t dealt with surrogacy in his ministry so he didn’t have any advice other than to pray lots! We definitely did that and followed our hearts!  

Soon we were filling out applications and starting the process! We were sent profiles of potential intended parents (IP’S) and began searching for a couple who shared our faith and outlook on life. I came across our IP’s profile and something in Vanessa’s eyes just made me want to meet them and learn their story. We emailed back and forth and talked on the phone, and I knew they were the ones. And she felt the same way!

We met them near Create, which is the fertility centre in Toronto, for breakfast and talked and talked! They were so kind and down to earth. We learned that they have been trying to conceive for many years, over 5! And that they had countless failed attempts at IVF. The heartbreak they have experienced is unimaginable for us. I think that we sometimes take for granted that having children was so easy for us, but this is not the case for many couples.

Josh and I knew that we needed to introduce the idea of surrogacy to our kids. We found a book online called the Kangaroo Pouch, and that’s kind of how we introduced it to them. Ava was so excited and she understood very quickly and was all in! Brody was happy too, but seemed a little distant and Kylee understood as well as a 4-year-old could.

Another step in this process is all the paperwork involved from us. Any time off work, medications I need to take, doctors’ appointments, childcare needed, etc. all needs to be documented and receipts need to be filed and sent off to CFC. A common misconception of surrogacy is that we get paid to do this. This is far from the truth; it is actually illegal to pay a surrogate in Canada. All pregnancy related expenses are reimbursed to surrogates which is why all receipts, time off, etc. needs to be filed and documented. Josh did all of this throughout our journey. He made sure to stay on top of filing so we wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed when we had to hand in our expenses. 

The next step is to prepare my body for the embryo transfer. Medication was sent to me and the transfer was booked for the beginning of January. I was so nervous but excited to help them start their family! Vanessa and Desmond came down to our place to meet our kids in December. Everyone just clicked. Our kids LOVE them! They talk about them all the time and look forward to meeting them again and again. 

So, we started medication about 2 weeks before transfer and I didn’t feel all that different. I was on Estrace (an oral pill), progesterone (an injection), and some antibiotics. I was mostly nervous about the injections. I prepared the needles and Josh did the injections. They progressively got worse and sore but not too horrible. So, transfer was set for the beginning of January. We met Vanessa and Desmond at Create and we were all very nervous but hopeful!  The transfer itself only takes a few minutes. It’s pretty neat to see the little embryo on the screen. The next two weeks were very trying. After about a week I began to feel a little nauseous and thought maybe it worked. I did a home pregnancy test after 12 days and it was positive! We were so excited! I sent a picture to Vanessa and she was ecstatic! After the beta bloodwork confirmed we were pregnant we felt we could relax a bit. We were pregnant, YAY!!!

We met for the 8-week ultrasound and unfortunately our dreams came crashing down. There was a yoke sack but no baby in it. We decided to wait 2 more weeks; maybe it was just too early. Deep down I think I knew it wasn’t our time. Two weeks later the ultrasound confirmed there was no baby. They called it a blighted ovum. Apparently, it is a common type of miscarriage. We were all heartbroken. Vanessa and Desmond put on a tough front, but they were crushed as well. After years of infertility, we thought this was it. So, after a good cry, we picked ourselves back up and aimed for success on transfer number 2! We started medication again and met at Create about 2 months later hoping this would be it. Unfortunately, this one didn’t take. I got negative home pregnancy tests at 8 days past transfer and betas confirmed it didn’t work.

On to transfer number 3! On July 2 we went for the third time to Create to transfer. This had to be it. We prayed so hard and tried to stay positive. This time I didn’t take any home pregnancy tests. Waiting for beta results seemed to take forever. When the number came back in the 400’s we were cautiously excited. I didn’t want to get our hopes up to have them all come crashing down again. Second beta’s came back over 1000, we were pregnant again!!! Now the long wait until the ultrasound. I tried not to think about it, and didn’t talk about it too much.  The day of the ultrasound was sooo tense. Vanessa and I were called in to the room first and the technician didn’t say a word. We stared at the screen hoping and praying to see the flicker of a heartbeat. And thank goodness, there it was! A beautiful little 8-week-old baby. To say we were happy was an understatement! The pure joy in Vanessa’s eyes made all the needles, medication, and waiting worth it. Desmond and Josh hesitantly came in the room and breathed a sigh of relief when they saw our smiles.

The 12-week ultrasound was also a bit nerve-racking. We all hoped and prayed that their little jellybean was growing and healthy. And jellybean was doing great!

We were all very excited for the 20-week ultrasound so we could see the baby again and hopefully find out the sex. Vanessa and Desmond came down to St. Thomas and we waited for our appointment. They called me in and only allowed me to go in to start. This scan took sooo long. She assured me that everything looked good, but little jellybean kept moving around so it was hard for her to get the images she needed. After almost an hour the rest of the crew came in. But she wouldn’t tell us the sex, we had to wait to meet with the doctor. That was okay, we were all just happy and amazed to see their little jellybean moving all around. After the ultrasound we all went to my parents and had lunch. The kids were so excited to see Vanessa and Desmond! It’s amazing to see the bond they have created with our children. They are like family.

We met with Dr.Crumley at around 24 weeks and were excited to find out that jellybean is a girl! It’s strange to me how different I feel throughout this pregnancy than with my own kids.  Vanessa and Desmond have been so great assuring me that what happens will happen. I’ve never felt pressured or pushed by them and they have been so amazing and calm throughout this whole journey. When I feel the baby move, I get excited for them and can’t wait for them to hold their little girl! At the same time, I’m still nervous and scared that something will happen. Trusting the process and that it’s in God’s hands is sometimes easier said than done.

This has been such a rollercoaster of a ride. It’s hard to believe we are so close to the end.  This pregnancy has taken so much more out of me physically than any of my own. I’m so tired all the time and I get cramps almost daily and just feel off. I try to put on a brave face, especially for Vanessa because I know she would trade places with me in a heartbeat. And when I’m asked how I’m feeling by a co-worker, family, or friends, I can’t complain. Josh has been my rock through all of this. He has done the cleaning, laundry, and all the little extras. I know I can be challenging to live with and he never complains (he probably knows better!). Even our kids have been amazing. Ava and Brody have picked up on their chores and are always aware that I’m tired or not feeling 100 percent. They offer to help me get up, comb my hair, and give me massages! Even Kylee gives me extra hugs and snuggles. My parents have been a huge support as well. My mom is always making meals for us or inviting us over. She takes the kids and gives us a break too. I’m so blessed to have a great support system here. Ava is even doing her speech on surrogacy. I’m so proud of her!

At 39 weeks I am ready to give this little girl to her parents! I’m getting more uncomfortable, not sleeping great, and just ready to feel normal again. Josh keeps reminding me to just think about how happy Vanessa and Desmond will be when they hold their baby and to just focus on that.

March 20, our due date! It’s been a long few weeks. At our doctor’s appointment she suggested induction on Friday. My blood pressure has been slowly going up, so this is the safest for baby and me. I’m super excited and extremely terrified at the same time. Vanessa was at the appointment today, and the pure joy on her face made this whole process worth it.

Now the wait for the phone to ring. I think I checked my phone every 10 minutes. Josh and I sent the kids to school and then went about our day trying to stay busy. I’m sure Vanessa and Desmond were on edge too. They were staying at a motel in London. If we didn’t hear anything from the hospital, we were going to meet up with them for lunch.

At 3:30 we went to pick up the kids from school. They were so excited to see Vanessa and Desmond. I know I have said it before, but it is truly amazing to see the relationship that they have formed with each other. Our kids just love them and it’s so clear that the feeling is mutual.  Vanessa and Desmond have so much love to give; they are going to be amazing parents!

We played some games and hung out at our place. Around dinner time Vanessa and Desmond went back to their motel and we had dinner at mom and dad’s. I did call the hospital again, and was told the same thing, they will call eventually. This was such a long day of waiting.  The kids stayed at mom and dads and we went home early. I went to bed super early, around 7:30, not expecting to hear anything until the morning. I fell asleep quickly and around 10:30pm Josh came in and said the hospital called. I thought he was joking at first. It’s go time! I called Vanessa and we were off. We met them at the hospital shortly after 11pm and then the waiting continued. We waited until well after midnight when they finally called us in to the labour room. Then the waiting continued again.

Little Zuri entered the world! She was born at 2:46pm on March 24, 2018! Weighing in at 7 lbs and 4 oz. The look on Vanessa’s face is one I will remember forever, pure joy!!! Vanessa came and hugged me and we just cried. I told her to go to her daughter! Desmond also stood by his baby and we could just feel the love from them for their little girl. It was so fun to sit back and listen to Vanessa and Desmond call their families and tell them the good news. Such a long road for them and they finally have their baby!

After they snuggled their baby, I officially met little Zuri. She has lots of dark hair and such fine features, beautiful! Our family came around 6pm and it was so nice to see them. Vanessa and Desmond came to our room and introduced Zuri to our family. Our kids just love her. They each got a turn to hold her too. My mom and dad did as well. It’s just so amazing how our families mesh so well, it’s like this journey was all meant to be. 

Even though our journey is over, we have made great friends who I consider family. They will forever hold a place in our hearts and I look forward to watching them raise little Zuri! God has blessed us so much and I am truly grateful that this was all part of His plan!

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