By Crystal Latorella
The importance of having a support system as a surrogate is crucial.
During my first surrogacy, I was matched with a wonderful couple who already had four kids. However, my Intended Mom couldn’t carry anymore. They had two remaining embryos from their IVF adventure that they decided to use for our transfer.
From the very beginning of my surrogate journey with this couple, my Intended Mom was very supportive. She was able to walk me through my first few injections, as she had been down the same road, and she constantly asked how I was doing and feeling.
On top of the support I received from her and her family, I also had the support of my own family. I never truly understood, though, how much this support meant until my second surrogacy journey.
In 2019, I was matched with a new set of Intended Parents. This was all new to them, and I would be helping them have their first baby. But, throughout the whole journey, they were absent emotionally and physically. To start, the fertility clinic was about an hour away from where they live, and three hours away from my home. I invited them to the embryo transfer, but they declined. I had texted one of the dads and asked how many embryos they have, and if they knew the gender of the embryos. His response was, “Don’t worry about that. You just focus on getting pregnant.” I was truly shocked by his response.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. For the first ultrasound, the IPs didn’t know if it would be worth an hour’s drive to see their baby for the very first time. They did make the trip, but once the heartbeat was confirmed and the dads were walking out of the room, one said, “Okay, so we will see you in nine months.” There was just pure shock on everyone’s face, including the ultrasound tech’s. This journey was already overwhelming, and it was only the beginning.
One afternoon, my husband was giving me my PIO (progesterone in oil) injection, and I just started crying. He asked me why I was crying, and I explained how I just felt like a vessel to this couple and it just sucked. My husband said:
"You're so strong, and a lot of people could never do this. You're doing something wonderful for a second time and that is something to be proud of."
His support was so comforting to me, given all I was going through.
Throughout the next nine months I was never asked how I felt by my IPs. In fact, when I was nauseous, I was told to suck it up. One of the dads even went so far as to tell me the baby was making me uncomfortable because I wasn’t wearing Jimmy Choo’s. During the anatomy scan, one of the Intended Fathers asked me whether I would claim unemployment once I had given birth, a question which horrified me and the ultrasound technician. When I told my mom what had happened, she said, “Good thing this isn’t your 1st surrogacy because you would have never done another”. Without my family and friends’ continued support, encouraging words, and positive motivation, I would have broken. I would have sat in a corner and just given up.
Giving birth during the pandemic limited who I could have in the room for delivery. My husband could not join as he was living in Tennessee for work while I was in Florida. So, I chose one of the Intended Fathers to be in the delivery room, but requested the other not be present. However, the hospital did not listen to my request.
That labor and delivery was the hardest of my life. I had no one in my corner to hold my hand or help get my mindset in the right direction. The Intended Father that I had asked not to be in the room, who was still granted access, was eating right in front of me. My amazing boss and friend, who had the IF’s number, texted him to tell him not to eat. He laughed and continued.
There was some difficulty from the epidural, and it took three hours of pushing for surrobaby to arrive. I was mentally, physically, and emotionally drained from that day. I felt, and I was, alone during those moments. I video-called my husband right after everyone left the room and just bawled my eyes out. He told me how proud he was of me and what a warrior I was for accomplishing a second surrogacy.
I told myself that day I wouldn't do another surrogacy after that. But my husband knew I've always wanted to do three journeys. Kindly and gently, he pointed me in the direction of a third journey, and I'm so grateful he did. My current Intended Fathers are amazing, sweet, and thoughtful.
When I matched with my Intended Fathers, I had a video call with them and was very upfront about my needs as a surrogate. Given all that had happened with my second journey, I knew how I deserved to be treated. I told my Intended Fathers, “This will be my 5th pregnancy. I do not need to be babied, but I am human and would like to be genuinely asked how I’m doing every so often and not told to suck it up.” I could tell by their mannerisms and just honest and truthful demeanor that they were going to be supportive. We transferred almost a month ago and both Intended Fathers have been amazing and attentive so far.
While all journeys are different, I wish every woman knew how important it is to have a system of support. I’m so blessed to have this support system behind me to show me what surrogacy is really all about. I wouldn’t be on my third journey without it.
Like many other things in life, the mental health of surrogates and Intended Parents is important during a surrogacy journey. Check out our list of fertility counselors if you’re thinking about seeing one during your journey!