Lessons from the land of surrogacy (part 2 of 2)

“I had a dream that I am supposed to carry your baby. I want to be your surrogate.”

“No you don’t. You are crazy.”

Katie and I have that kind of friendship. Eight years ago we were thrown together in a unfamiliar Midwest town for our husbands’ surgical residency training - and we created our own family.

What started out as regular Sunday dinners and movie nights morphed into Katie driving me home from medical procedures. Her two-year-old son would jump on the trampoline at summer BBQs - the trampoline I had purchased to detoxify my lymphatic system.

A few years, three frozen embryos, and several biopsy scars later that same son turned to me one Super Bowl Party, “Corinna, put your hair back on, you look better with it on.”

His father, mortified, turns to me, “He didn’t mean that, he doesn’t understand.”

“No, it is a good point, I am a bit of a egghead - especially without any eyebrows.”

My husband’s birthday one year happened to occur when I was still in quarantine on the Bone Marrow Transplant Floor. Katie and her family were the only friends we invited.

We finished our residency. Katie and her family returned to the West Coast and we returned East. A new biopsy scar in my armpit joined the ones on my neck and I said goodbye to my hair again. I also said goodbye to waddling and complaining of swollen ankles, to cute shirts over leggings, to resting a glass of carrot juice on my belly and watching it dance with hiccups. Goodbye to being kicked from the inside. Goodbye to George kissing my belly with paternal pride. We read pamphlets filled with pictures of the Gerber baby and saved money for a surrogate.

In February, just when we are ready to sign a surrogacy contract, Katie called me. I was not able to talk her out of her extraordinary offer.

Later that year, the doctor placed one embryo we had frozen 6 years ago into Katie’s uterus. She gave herself daily shots, made appointments for acupuncture because she knew I wanted it, stopped exercising, educated her children about momma cells and pappa cells coming together, and prayed with her priest.

The day we came home from the implantation at the clinic Katie’s 5-year-old daughter ran up to her momma laying on the couch, leaned over, and kissed Katie’s belly, “Grow baby grow. Grow baby grow.”

During our husband’s training, our friendship became familial. We are adding complexity and depth to that familial relationship by literally adding another member to our family.

Our baby is due in April. Katie, mine, my husband, her husband, and her children - all of us are having this baby. Grow Baby Grow.

 (this is the first one in this short lived series - some things are better to be kept close to the chest)

Lessons from the land of Surrogacy (1 of ?)

It is time to see if our frozen eggs can make there own way in the world (as hilarious it is to send off checks for their daycare/nightcare/storage). As such I have been so lucky to be given recommendations from dear friends to talk to people in this world from all over the country (well, left and right coasts). This is a small snapshot of what I have learned...

The only organization that seems to have ranked the MANY surrogacy agencies/fertility clinics out there is called Men Having Babies. You can check out their ranking on their website: MenHavingBabies.org. (caveat, the organization is based in New York City - so it is fairly NYC centric and they have not ranked everyone). The nice thing about this ranking is that you know the agencies/clinics are all LGBT friendly, which is important.

This was a fascinating lesson in the variation of State Laws - as a native Washingtonian, I didn't know what a Governor did till I was in college. For example, a Gestational Surrogate (GS) in California is not allowed (per her contract) to be in Arizona for the last trimester of her pregnancy - because, if the baby comes early, Arizona will keep the child and not give it to the Intended Parents (IP). In Florida it is illegal to pay someone to be a GS for you, ditto in NY. However - as this Surrogacy Central FAQ states, "Thanks to our United States Constitution, one may travel to any state in the United States and do anything that is legal in that state." I think that is one of the best sentences ever.

The legality arguments about surrogacy are fascinating. A lot of the people who fought the first court battles are still working today. The most striking sentence I found from my readings about how this has moved forward was from the Center for Surrogate Parenting, when talking about laws in CA in 1980: "Existing laws at the time were: ... (2) you can't sell a child - Emancipation Proclamation outlawed slavery in 1863 ... (4) Sperm Donor Act stated if a man produces sperm so that another man's wife can have a child, the donor has no liability and no right to declare the child's father; i.e., the surrogate's husband was deemed the father of any child she carries."

Some agencies have psychologists on staff, some do not.

Some agencies tell you that the GS's insurance will not pay for her pregnancy, some tell you it is not a problem (wonder if that is a question of which state the surrogate is in).

Most agencies want you to pay the retainer upfront before your find the surrogacy - I only spoke to one that did not.

Here is my one snarky learning that I hope perhaps some of the agencies can hear: When a heterosexual married woman is talking to a surrogacy agency it is safe to make the assumption that this is not her first choice of being a mother (unless she is super model and doesn't want to ruin her figure). As such, there is no reason to ask any questions along the lines of: "Why are you and your husband infertile?" Just take the facts (frozen embryos, wants to find a GS) and move on.

On that same vein, I found myself doing some really good cleansing of bottled emotions (that bottle that seems to be neverending). Tears, yelling, walks, meditations, talkings with friends - all good flushings in order for me to hug our future pregnant GS without reservation and throw a kick ass baby shower.

We will write up a vision for how we want this process to go when we are in Brazil with John of God. 5 weeks away!