5 Things I Learned From Being A Gestational Carrier

  1. The timeline was longer than I expected. Unfortunately, Colorado Surrogacy and Montana Surrogacy weren’t around when I went through my surrogacy journey, so my process wasn’t as smooth as what our gestational surrogates get to experience. I started the process in January 2014 with an agency. I turned in all of my paperwork in less than a week. I was motivated to do this! Then I waited. I waited 4 months before I was introduced to potential intended parents (IPs). I quickly realized that the agency did not have the best interest of the gestational surrogate in mind. They matched me with a couple that didn’t want any of the same things as me. For example, I wanted an out of hospital birth and to provide breastmilk for about a year. The IPs had no idea breastmilk was an option, and they wanted to birth in a hospital with a high level NICU.  I left the agency and went private. I met another couple in April 2014 through a friend. We took a couple of months to get to know each other. At one point, they expressed to me that they would never tell the child that they were born via gestational surrogacy. I had asked that question weeks before and they said they would be honest with their child. The change in story made me uncomfortable so I told them it wasn’t a good fit. In the fall of 2014, I was browsing a Facebook group called “Denver Birth Circle” when I saw a post by a local midwife looking for a gestational surrogate for her brother and his husband. I immediately messaged her and she put me in touch with them. After FaceTiming, we all felt like it was a good fit. Soon after that, we met in person and agreed to do this together. By the time we completed the legal and medical process, harvested eggs, and made embryos, it was June 2015 and time to start the medications to prepare my body for the embryo transfer. By late July I had the embryo transfer, which worked the first time! I gave birth preterm in February 2016 to a healthy boy and pumped milk for nearly a year.
  2. I didn’t realize how many lives I would touch. It takes a lot of generosity to give the gift of life. At first, I didn’t think of it like that, I just kept thinking, why wouldn’t I do this for someone else? Our family was complete, yet I had at least another decade a childbearing years. Both of my pregnancies and births were very smooth—in fact I actually enjoyed pregnancy and birth. I knew it wasn’t so easy for everyone, I was surrounded by people struggling with infertility. I felt really fortunate for my experiences creating my family. I wanted to give the gift of family to someone struggling. I am a big believer that anyone who wants a family should be able to have one and we as humans should help each other with our struggles. A lot of people were inspired when they saw the selflessness it takes to be a surrogate. I have had multiple friends apply to be gestational surrogates after being inspired by my story. Some people just became more open to the idea of surrogacy and gay parenting through watching our story unfold. The little boy I gave birth to is surrounded by many loved ones that are so happy he is here. The whole experience changed so many lives and created a new one. 
  3. By signing up to be a gestational surrogate I signed up for complete transparency. I literally had a camera stuck up my vagina into my uterus to check for any abnormalities. It doesn’t get any more transparent than that! My IPs knew nearly everything about me, including family life, medical past, and financial history. We had to undergo background checks, psychological screenings, and medical exams. Once we got deeper into the process they knew how thick the lining of my uterus was and eventually they watched their baby come out of my vagina. If you are a reserved person, surrogacy is probably not for you. 
  4. Support is key. My IPs lived across the country so I only saw them at our first in-person meeting, at one ultrasound, and at the birth. Understandably, they couldn’t fly out for every appointment. I’ll always remember something one of my IPs said to me at the ultrasound, he said, “I just want to put you in my pocket and take you everywhere until he is born.” I can’t imagine how hard it was for them to leave and trust me with their baby. It was also hard for me to see them leave and know I wouldn’t see them again until the 3rd trimester. I didn’t get to see their excitement at the appointments when I heard their baby’s heartbeat. I was alone at every appointment. I didn’t want my husband to take time off for appointments, because he had just started a new job. The IPs didn’t get to feel the baby kick or hiccup during the pregnancy. I moved from Colorado to Montana at the end of my first trimester, which meant I had to establish new prenatal care and leave behind a large portion of the IP’s family that would have been a great local support system. Because the pre-birth order was done in Colorado I was required to travel back to Colorado at 36 weeks gestation and stay there until the baby was born. I was worried about leaving my family for an unknown amount of time. I was sick and exhausted for most of the pregnancy. It was winter in Montana for the entire second and third trimesters. It was a difficult few months. My water broke at 34 weeks so I never made it back to Colorado. He was born just as healthy as a full term baby and required no extra care. The birth certificate was issued to his parents and everything worked out wonderfully. There were many times when I wanted the IPs to be by my side. The people who were there for me during this transformative time in my life are closer to me than anyone else. Unless you know someone who has been a surrogate, nobody will truly understand what you go through. 
  5. It is the hardest thing I have ever done and I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I weighed the pros and cons of my experience, there is no question that this was an empowering experience full of lessons, that I would do again in a heartbeat. If you asked me during my first trimester, when I was lying on the couch nauseous for weeks, I would have very confidently said I would never do it again. I also said “never again” as I was sitting in bed shaking and crying with a high fever from mastitis, pumping through the pain to get the infection out all while still healing from a 24 hour labor. I thought I’d have to be crazy to do it again. Here I am today: the little boy I gave birth to will be 2 years old soon and I would love to do it again—actually, I am itching to do it again. Seeing pictures of him with his dads and all of the other people that love him make it all worth it. They all look so happy, I helped bring that happiness to their lives, why wouldn’t I want to do it again?

Amber Campanelli ~ The Honest Surrogate

To learn more about my surrogacy journey, visit my blog!