Surrogacy Stories is a blog series compiled by Heartland Surrogacy. In this series we will bring you personal perspectives on surrogacy from a variety of people: surrogates, intended parents, and the professionals who have been lucky enough to work with them. Today we bring you a surrogacy story from Nicole*, an Iowa gestational carrier with Heartland Surrogacy. In a recent interview, she shared with us some of her experiences as a surrogate. We are proud to represent such a strong and compassionate woman!
Tell us about your surrogacy journeys and what kind of support you had.
I’ve been a gestational carrier twice. My immediate family was most supportive. My husband helps a lot with childcare and household chores (he stays home part time, so he’s already a pro!), and I have two close friends that are very supportive.
How did you decide this was the right path for you?
[laughs] I think like any big decision in my life: I am quick to research and quick to decide. Over time I’ve learned to always remain flexible, but my decision-making remain the same—I take the plunge!
Where did you get information on becoming a surrogate?
I researched online, especially in surrogacy forums and on agency websites.
Why did you choose to go through an agency both times instead of private arrangements?
I didn’t really know the ropes; I wanted someone to guide me and mediate with the parents. I definitely didn’t want to get myself into a pickle! I knew an agency would help prevent that.
What makes you a good surrogate (or what would your IPs say)?
I have easy pregnancies, enjoy being pregnant, and look good pregnant [laughs]! I am open-minded, mostly agreeable, and willing to work with a lot of different people. My IPs have liked that I’m in the medical field because it helps me understand the medical side of the process better. They also like that I have a well-established marriage and family.
How were these pregnancies different physically and emotionally from the pregnancies with your own children?
Everything is different. None of my pregnancies have been the same. The hormones [used for a surrogacy pregnancy] make a big difference on how things go in the beginning, such as with side effects.
What kind of relationship did you have with IPs during and after?
Good relationships with lots of communication and mutual decision-making. I have always maintained contact after the pregnancy and they have been respectful of my family. I enjoy being able to see my surrogate babies, either in pictures or in person. Seeing them, I feel like when I see my nieces; they are family.
What goals did you achieve through your compensation?
My kitchen was from 1959! It badly needed to be remodeled. It was also really important for me to pay off student loans early and get rid of other debt. The rest we have put in the kids’ college fund.
How did your family/work life change during and after the pregnancies?
Mostly in the same ways that a typical pregnancy would. For my last delivery, I was placed on bed rest for the last two weeks and then I had a C-section, which meant an extended leave from work. These are risks of pregnancy, and it was unfortunate that happened, as it was a challenge for our family. But I am motivated by the happiness of my IPs, even at times that it called for a bigger sacrifice.
One big change for my marriage was that in my last pregnancy, I was told we couldn’t have sex [near the end]! That was tough. For other women, it may not be a big deal because they’ve stopped by that time anyway, but we never had!
What do you think about Heartland Surrogacy?
I am delighted to work with this agency. They sure do know how to take care of their carriers! It’s wonderful to have them facilitate the process and [make sure] that everything is covered. Because they’re a small company, I think access to the staff is also a luxury that all their clients have.
*name changed for privacy