Meet Emily, Mother-To-Be Via Surrogacy
We had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Emily and chatting through her unique journey to motherhood. After some pleasantries we jumped right in!
Let’s start with an introduction of yourself....
Hi, I’m Emily! I’m 49 and I work as a Congressional staffer in DC. I’ve been married to my husband, David, for 19 years and after a very long wait, we are expecting our first child at the beginning of September! Oh, and we also have a dog, who’s asleep next to me.
Congrats on your pregnancy! As mentioned, you and David have been married for 19 years, and 19 years later you are expecting your first child. Sounds like there must be a story! What has the journey to parenthood looked like for you and David?
As early as one of our first dates, we were at a county fair and saw a woman pushing a stroller full of kids and David turned to me and said, “I want ten kids!” Even before we married, we had quickly aligned on wanting a large family.
Like many people do, we got married and thought we’d start having as many kids as we wanted. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for us. After trying the “old-fashioned” way for several years, we finally started looking into assisted reproductive technologies.
Our story includes a looonnnnggg and difficult journey with IVF, which eventually also proved unsuccessful. We were able to make embryos, I just couldn't stay pregnant. When we had only two embryos left over after our failed IVF attempts, it became apparent that surrogacy was one of few avenues left to explore, especially if we wanted our frozen embryos to have a chance.
How has this process been for you?
All along, we knew that the path to motherhood was an exercise of what was right for me and David.
It's not easy, and the surrogacy route is tough and not for everyone, but we recognize other journeys are hard as well, including the path that lead us here. Having dealt with infertility for so long it’s hard to mentally prepare for the many transitions you go through up to this point. You have to start with confronting the challenge of wanting and trying to have a baby for so long and your body just doesn’t let it happen. You don’t realize the impact it has on you to not be able to do something that nearly everyone does naturally. That battle with your “self” can be very isolating.
Then finally you accept that you’re going to need help and you start to re-envision the path from what you previously thought it would be.
So you’ve decided to go the route of surrogacy, what are your next steps?
We started with a referral from some friends who had gone through a local surrogacy firm. We met with that agency and just didn’t feel like it was a fit for us.
Lesson number 1: Different firms have different specialties, and it’s okay to look around until you find one that’s the right fit.
Fortunately, the fertility clinic we’d been working with had an agency referral for us which not only felt like a good fit, but had a waiting surrogate who had yet to be matched because of her wish to deliver in a non-hospital setting. Better yet, she was from David's home state, which meant a lot to him. David would always say to me “the right time will reveal itself” and we both kind of choose to recognize kismet...divinity...miracle... or whatever it was.
That said, there’s still some courting that needed to happen to ensure there was a match between her wishes and ours, and that we felt confident trusting this stranger with such a life changing experience.
How long did the surrogacy process take for you?
Once we had all of the logistics out of the way, things actually moved pretty quickly. We started the process just over a year ago and now she’s 20 weeks pregnant?! Now, we wait...
What is it like to have a gestational carrier?
To get the point where we were emotionally ready and financially able took many years. If I had to use one word to describe our surrogacy journey, it would be "surrender." Surrendering our previous expectations for growing our family, allowed us to take a leap of faith and transfer an embryo that’s been frozen for 14 years into a stranger’s body. It's one of the strangest experiences and many times we wished there was some sort of support group to help us through everything, but every scenario is so different, that I’m not sure it would have made a difference.
However, our surrogate is so lovely and because we text and talk regularly, we’ve built a unique, beautiful relationship. If we’re not able to attend doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds in person, we’re there with her via FaceTime.
We had to miss our last in-person appointment but got to see the images and the baby’s face already looked like David. It still feels too good to be true!
Can you speak to the cost of surrogacy?
To be honest, it’s really expensive - like taking out student loans for college and grad school expensive. We feel very fortunate that we were able to pursue this path after all these years, but recognize the cost is a huge barrier to many who are struggling to be able to have the family they want.
What advice would you offer to women experiencing infertility?
Once you understand what you really want… don’t give up. And also recognize that whatever YOU want is okay. You can decide that it’s okay to never have kids, or you can stay the course toward motherhood. It may not be easy, it may not be convenient, but, I hear it's worth it. 😉