Saturday, July 2, 2011

Is Surrogacy Right For Me?

One of the questions I get asked a lot is why I want to be a surrogate. Most people assume I'm choosing to carry for a family member or close friend and after finding out that I'm willing to carry for complete strangers, they immediately assume my motive is solely financial. While compensation is part of the surrogate "package," it is by no means my motivator and most definitely not my sole reason for embarking on this journey. There's a lot that goes into the decision to become a surrogate. There's much more to it than just "getting pregnant and having a baby."

The first thing to consider is whether or not your body can handle another pregnancy, especially a multiple pregnancy. One of the prerequisites of being a surrogate is having a child. You have to have both carried and delivered a healthy child and had that child remain in your custody. Having gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, any real dangerous or risky developments during previous pregnancies can make it difficult for an RE to work with you. Prior miscarriages may or may not work against you. Usually having a healthy pregnancy/birth after a miscarriage essentially negates the miscarriage.
Additionally, your body has to be able to handle the hormones you'll need to inject yourself with. If you don't react well to hormonal birth control or are unable to deal well with your hormones (i.e. crazy PMS and whatnot), you're probably not the best candidate.

Second, you need to evaluate your home situation. You need a strong, stable support system in place long before you start cycling. If you don't have a supportive spouse or significant other, surrogacy is not for you. If you're regularly stressed or unable to handle your own responsibilities, keep walking. If you're married, your husband will have to sign the contract as well so he needs to be on board. It's better if he's supportive and willing to help you with everything. Surrogacy is a very emotional process. Long before the actual pregnancy, there's a lot of potential disappointment and heartbreak and without my family, I'm not sure I'd be able to continue. Surrogates also need very flexible schedules with the ability to travel frequently and to attend many appointments.

The last thing you need to do is some soul-searching. Carrying any pregnancy is an emotional process. You have to be willing to do things the way your IPs want you to, not the way you want to and you have to understand that at the end of the pregnancy, after all of the time you've spent carrying and after laboring, you walk away with empty arms. Not only that, but you have to think about the hard stuff. How many embryos are you okay with transferring? What are your opinions on selective reductions? What about invasive testing procedures? Are you willing to lose your reproductive ability? How about sacrificing your own life to give another couple a child? There's a lot that goes into your contract. You have to think about what would happen if you were in a coma and put on life support. How long would you agree to carry before pulling the plug? Most people think about IVF and the risks that come with that, but they don't think about all of the what ifs that go along with pregnancy, invasive procedures and pregnancy/birth-related surgeries.

There's a lot of hard thinking that comes with your decision to be a surrogate. Do you go with an agency or go independent? What's reasonable for compensation? What do I want to find in IPs? What are things that I'm not willing to compromise on (reductions, invasive procedures, etc)? The process of finding IPs can take a good amount of time and that's only the start. Getting to the point of "getting" pregnant could take years. Ultimately, it's a very rewarding experience, but not for everyone.

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