For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a mother. To have my own little family. I have always been the type of person to look ahead rather than the present, so when I met my now husband I knew we would have children eventually.
We waited and enjoyed life for a while but sadly others around us experienced losses and fertility issues, something I had not thought about or even faced before growing up. It made me ask myself, “could I help them”, was there something I could do – to at least allow a glimmer of hope that the unachievable may in fact be reachable after all?
I briefly looked into egg donation and touched on surrogacy but due to potential health risks to myself it was decided, as a couple, to complete our own family first; so over the course of 5 years we went on to have two healthy and wonderful children, a boy and a girl. Feeling complete and happy with life, I was now faced with the thoughts I had first encountered 8 years previously.
How could I help a family that desperately needed a helping hand?
Queue lots and lots of research. Mainly online and through support forums where I met a lot of incredible women who had selflessly aided other couples before and could provide me with detailed experiences. I began to become aware of the law and my obligations as a surrogate. During my fact-finding mission I came in to contact with a lovely couple, who suffered from health issues which meant it was dangerous for her to carry. They were also searching actively for advice on surrogacy and like myself were at the point of looking for a recommended agency.
We met in Spring 2016 for a general get-to-know each other, but hit it off straight away. They felt like a missing piece to my puzzle that just clicked into place. We decided to match, which means I offered to carry their baby for them, we signed agreements and began investigating clinics. This meant we would be doing the journey as what is known as independently, so without the use of an agency.
Surrogates in the UK do not get compensation, you can only apply for what is deemed a reasonable expense. This was agreed between us and then we began the health checks, wills and DBS checks amongst other things.
I found counselling incredibly useful, they asked us a lot of questions and covered other topics such as:
So many areas were covered, but I felt it was vital because had any of the questions made me stop and worry, then surrogacy wouldn’t have been for me.
Once we had the all clear, we began attempts in April 2017. We were successful on our second attempt.
I cannot express how much of an emotional rollercoaster it was waiting to test. We had a test date scheduled and we would find out together if we were successful. After the month before, where it had failed, emotions were high although we remained positive. Despite the fact that you have no control over the outcome, you can’t help but feel that you have somehow failed and your body has let you and the couple, down. We needn’t have worried, seeing the positive pregnancy result, happiness soared. Gratitude that it had worked engulfed us all and we broke down and were absolutely ecstatic. I was officially a guardian for their little baby, an oven to grow her and a friend to protect.
My bond with the couple went from strength to strength every day, rather than bonding with baby as such, you just feel galvanised into getting baby safely to each milestone and including the parents as much as possible. Bombarding with pictures, messages and meet ups.
I found scans to be emotionally a double-edged sword. As much as it was so lovely to be a part of their happiness, you do almost feel you are intruding on their special and private moment.
The pregnancy went smoothly, and a baby girl was born in Feb 2018. Both parents were at the birth and had skin to skin contact immediately. Watching the couple captivated with their daughter, enraptured in her birth it just gave me the most elated feeling ever.
I did that! I helped them! Finally after all these years of hoping I could help someone, I finally had and the feeling you get is indescribable.
They could now live as a family as I left hospital to be with mine. I spent my recovery time with my family and I now offer support and advice online and try to spread the positive word of surrogacy and what is known of it. Sadly a lot of people have an obscured perception of it but that is soon rectified through talking of experiences.
Dream achieved, but who said we only have one dream?
Final note, for anyone considering making the amazing decision to be a surrogate in the future, I would highly recommend taking your time. People will always need your help. When you make a decision like this it is very easy to get swept along with the emotions of it all. Research things thoroughly, complete all the necessary checks beforehand and of course follow your gut.
Surrogacy can be such a rewarding experience but patience is definitely required.
Gemma is a 32-year-old mother of two. She lives in the U.K and was a surrogate mother for a couple. She now offers online support and advice and is trying to raise surrogacy awareness in a positive light via Instagram (just_gem32) and in the near future a support blog.