Intended parents, gestational carriers, pre birth order, and so much more lingo. There is a lot of vocabulary in surrogacy that you learn and adjust to. You also help try to educate and explain it to family and friends. One of the hurdles I didn’t anticipate was having to educate and enlighten the medical community as we went through the surrogacy journey and pregnancy.
I was spoiled. My clinic and my team for all these years were amazing. They knew me so well, they understood the path we had walked. They were so supportive and really needed no explaining! In the IVF world we unfortunately got so used to being in the same spot. Embryo transfer, chemical or miscarriage early on, and then loss and mustering strength to figure out what’s next. Once we met our gestational carrier after such a long process to match and find her, and then the legal process, the next part went like lightning. She was cleared by our clinic in late summer and had the embryo transfer in November. All during this later part of the process I had undergone surgery for a hysterectomy. After years and many medical issues and life threatening complications it was time. So a lot of beginnings and endings collided. The transfer went great with our surrogate and our miracle baby is now 26 weeks along.
There is so much that I thought would just melt away once we would hit every milestone throughout the pregnancy. But it’s complicated. It’s very hard to not have much “control” or ability to know everything that’s happening with the baby. Our surrogate is absolutely amazing and an Angel. But it’s hard. It is the most trying, difficult thing to feel uncertain and unsure of my place. This was compounded by the way doctors and medical staff acted as well. It’s a challenge to remember that although our baby is being carried by our amazing GC, she remains the core patient. So appointments and most everything goes to and through her. As IPs they don’t call us to set things up and that’s hard to not be the point person. I struggled before appointments with being nervous and our first appointment with a high risk OB-GYN was very difficult. The doctor and sonographer were not well-versed in surrogacy. Asking about egg donation or ignoring my presence as mom. Addressing our GC only and not asking for my input in baby’s health questions or decisions. I felt like a third wheel or a guest at my own baby’s appointments.
I dreaded the high risk OB-GYN and felt unimportant. Normally, I’m a person to stand up, I just didn’t know what to do in this situation. One of the things that’s the most difficult in surrogacy is having very little roadmap or other people who have experienced this to vent or ask advice from. So, for several weeks I just laughed it off in person and cried in my car after appointments. At the regular OB-GYN appointments, our surrogate had a great doctor but there of course are still gaps and challenges. For pre-birth registration, the intended parents don’t have anything established. Often in any of the paperwork, we aren’t much included as there are not spaces for other situations besides typical birth scenarios. Doctor’s give out pamphlets that pertain to pregnancy to the GC but most, if not all, of them don’t make sense for our situation. They don’t have anything for intended parents. Without an agency or having been through pregnancy or birth prior, I honestly would feel like I’m flying blind! I have thought many times throughout my journey about how other intended parents must be left in the dark.
Many of our outside of normal OB-GYN office appointments or medical phone calls, medical personnel have been completely oblivious to our situation. They have no idea what they are stepping into. We have gone to appointments where they have thought we are our GC’s parents or a friend. They don’t ever seem to read the chart that she is a surrogate. We always have to explain to everyone everything that is going on. I find that frustrating and odd that there is not identifiable information or quick note that people can read stating our situation briefly to avoid this confusion. It can often feel painful, uncomfortable and at times, embarrassing when we have to explain.
There is so much misinformation and confusion about surrogacy out there. It makes it challenging when the medical community is not trained or equipped with handling surrogacy cases. We need to do better. We need to support our community and the medical community as more families are in these situations. The hope as time goes on, we can work together to formulate information and support families, surrogates, and medical professionals.