Montana Surrogacy Spotlight - Suzie’s Story
My surrogacy journey began in 1990 while watching Oprah’s talk show. I’m sure she’s not aware of her involvement in this miraculous happening in my life, but I have to give credit where it’s due. I happened to be watching Oprah’s talk show while on maternity leave in May of 1991 after giving birth to my daughter, who is now 29.
The story that day was a popular one that I had seen on several news programs and other talk shows. It involved a traditional surrogate, which means that the baby was created using the surrogate’s own egg. In this case, she carried and delivered a child for a couple in New Jersey. After the delivery, she changed her mind and decided to keep the baby to raise herself. The distraught parents were all over the news, fighting to keep their baby. People were horrified at this story. The case was wrapped up in the court system for years.
Oprah was interviewing the surrogate mother, Marybeth Whitehead, via video chat. She came across as mentally unstable. I thought that there had to be a positive side to surrogacy. At the end of the program, a phone number appeared on the screen for a large surrogacy agency to contact for more information regarding surrogacy. I called immediately.
Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Indianapolis to meet with potential intended parents. In the 90s, traditional surrogacy (now often referred to as genetic surrogacy) was more the norm. Most intended parents were hesitant to use a surrogate doing IVF, as it was too expensive and had a very small success rate at the time. Traditional surrogacy meant that you would use your own egg, and they would be fertilized using an in-office procedure called artificial insemination (AI). I was matched with a wonderful couple from Greece, and agreed to meet them in Detroit at their fertility clinic. It worked, and we were pregnant!
Although we had a language barrier, we shared special moments when she brought baked goodies to our appointments, and showed me the tiny baby clothes she was knitting. No conversation was needed. They were living with family in Canada while they worked on creating their family, knowing that they would return to Greece someday, so we didn’t see each other because of the distance. Once their sweet baby girl was born, and after the paternity test (standard at that time), they arrived at the hospital with a suitcase full of handmade baby clothes, ready to scoop her up. I have never seen two happier people. I knew she’d never want for anything.
I returned home to my family, and they to theirs. I got back into the groove of being mom to my own two children. We stayed in touch with the new parents, and about the time their daughter turned one, they asked me to carry for them again. This time they wanted a son, a little brother for their daughter. Again, we met in Detroit at their fertility clinic, where they were using some sort of sperm washing to increase their chance of having a boy. Between work schedules, the holidays, and my kids both having chicken pox, we made about 5 trips to Detroit. I think we were all losing our patience with the process. We agreed to try one more time, and that would be the end of the road if it didn’t work. Surprise! We were pregnant again, this time with a baby boy.
They were just as overjoyed the second time to meet their son when he was born. After a couple of months, they gathered their new family and headed home to Greece. The children are 28 and 25 now, and I’m certain they are healthy and happy and still very much loved by their adoring parents.
Years later, after unexpectedly remarrying and happily having two more children of my own, I started considering surrogacy again. I had talked with another large agency, but that didn’t go anywhere. Life just kind of moved forward, and one day out of the blue, I got a phone call from a coordinator at a local fertility clinic I had worked with. She said, “Hey what are you doing?”. I said, “Nothing much.” She said, “Would you like to carry for a couple?” I told her to let me sleep on it.
Within a couple of months, we were meeting the intended parents and eating Christmas goodies at our home. They were a beautiful, successful couple, clearly over the moon about becoming parents. Things moved quickly, and by spring, we had two embryos transferred. The reproductive endocrinologist who performed the transfer, said he really didn’t think they’d both “stick” due to the intended mother’s advanced age, she was just over 40. We all giggled a little at that.
As it turns out, both of those babies wanted to hang around. I’ve never felt more exhausted as when my body was giving life to two babies. By the end, we had more doctor appointments than expected, plenty of lunch hour naps, loads of Jamba Juice with protein powder and ten weeks of bedrest. The twins came bouncing into the world just before Christmas at almost six pounds each, a boy and a girl. The parents were on a plane to Denver when the babies arrived. I sent them off right away to go see their healthy, adorable babies. It’s an unexplainable feeling to share the birth experience in this way.
As parents, we all know the incredible joy of that moment when your child comes into the world. Well, this ranks right up there. So, if you’re counting, yes, I have four children of my own as well. They got to know the parents and got to meet the babies, snuggle them, and say their goodbyes. They were all so amazing and helpful during the twins’ pregnancy. I couldn’t have done it without them, so of course, we took a trip to Disney World.
As I say all the time, surrogacy isn’t for everyone, but if you think it may be for you, check it out. You may change someone’s life in the most meaningful way.