I always knew I wanted to be a gestational carrier but I never imagined how much of an impact it would have on my family’s life. I love all things pregnancy and all things baby so it was an easy choice for me to decide on being a surrogate. Another event that impacted my decision was watching my mother go through IVF to have my little sister.
At 10 years old, the whole process amazed me and I knew that one day I would help create a family. After I had my youngest daughter I started really researching the surrogacy process and agencies. Thankfully, The Surrogacy Experience, was one of the first agencies I reached out to and I am so glad I did. Tina made me feel comfortable, explained everything in full detail and I felt that my best interest was at heart.
My intended parents were the first profile I saw and I immediately knew that they were my match. We decided to meet locally for dinner and get to know one another. The next day we were officially matched. From the start of our appointments, the reproductive endocrinologist and my intended mother made me feel so comfortable. Our relationship quickly flourished and before we knew it, we were texting or communicating via email daily. Our road was not the easiest, we suffered a loss followed by two failed transfers. I felt like I let them down however, they never once made me feel that way.
Throughout the two years we were trying, our friendship continued to grow and we were a constant part of each other’s lives. My intended parents came to my daughters’ birthdays, my birthday and several holidays. All of this happened BEFORE we even had a successful pregnancy.
Finally, transfer #4 came and to our surprise both embryos stuck. Sending those pregnancy test pictures to my intended parents was so exciting. I was a tad obsessed with the pregnancy testing kit and used it quite a few times daily. My intendeds still have all of those tests. My hcg (Human chorionic gonadotropin) continued to climb rapidly and I knew it was twins. We had our heart beat scan done, and sure enough, two perfect little heart beats. Oh I can’t even begin to explain the emotions in that room.
All the years of trying for my intended parents finally worked! Fast forward past the 20 weeks of morning sickness, and we had two healthy little girls growing. I worked at a 3d/4d ultrasound office during my surrogacy so we were able to peek in on the girls and see them often. I had their heart beats recorded and put into stuffed animals for my intended parents to listen to while they waited. My intended mother attended every single OB appointment and ultrasound which was very important to me. I wanted her to be a part of every single pregnancy motion. Her husband attended all the ultrasounds as well. During those numerous visits, we were able to spend time together with my family as well. I attended her baby shower thrown by their families, who are all such awesome people. My family and friends also threw her a shower at my mother’s and were able to celebrate the twins as well. We had so many people routing for us during our journey, from all sides, and they were so excited to celebrate when possible.
On November 1, 2013 at 37 weeks exactly, I was scheduled for a c section. My OB, whom I adore, allowed my husband and the intended parents to be in the OR during delivery. My most cherished picture is when (Baby A) was born. Her mother's eyes were wide and full of excitement as she held onto her husband's arm, who was equally as amazed.
I am so happy that my OB made it possible for everyone to be present for the birth because I felt that it was extremely important for the intended parents to be the first to lay eyes on their babies. The hospital provided a room right next to mine for them and the twins which worked perfectly because I was pumping milk for them both. They brought the girls to visit often and I took walks over to see them but wanted to give them some family time together. They spoiled me with gifts but the one thing I wear every single day is a necklace with 4 smalls discs that have the first initial of each of my girls and their girl. I never take it off.
The girls are 2 ½ years old now and I am so blessed to say that I have been in their life since day one. Their parents, who I'm so proud to call friends, have included me in all of the girls’ firsts with pictures and videos. I even got to make their first birthday cakes. We still visit each other often, spend birthdays and holidays together, chat throughout the week, and I still receive random pictures and videos that brighten my day.
Last month, we did a photo shoot together which I have been dying to do. I can not think of one downside to surrogacy in general or to my journey. I know how incredible blessed I am and I am so thankful to my intended parents for continuing to let me be a part of their life. As my intended mother would say, “We’re family!” I love them and their girls dearly and could not imagine my life being complete without the four of them.
by Renee Richards
Mother, friend and gestational carrier