Sometimes I forget that not everyone is immersed in the world of surrogacy and isn’t aware of the lingo. I’ll probably use it frequently b/c it is often a form of shorthand, so I thought a run-down on a few terms would be helpful:
- IPs (Intended Parents): What J (Husband) and I are
- IM (Intended Mother): Me
- IF (Intended Father): J
- PBO (Pre-Birth Order): legal document naming us as parents before the baby is born
- GS (Gestational Surrogacy): the type of surrogacy we are doing
- GC (Gestational Carrier): sometimes used to refer to our surrogate
- IVF (In Vitro Fertilization): procedure used to get our surrogate pregnant
- PG or pg: shorthand for pregnancy
- Beta: blood test to measure HCG
- HCG: I’m not spelling this out. Basically, it’s the hormone a woman’s body secretes if she is pg
- U/S: ultrasound
- Stims: drugs used to stimulate or “stim” the ovaries to develop follicles
That’s a good rundown. I’m sure there are more. Now answers to a few FAQs:
How did you meet your surrogate?
I’ll refer to our surrogate as “F” (very original: F is the first letter of her name). We decided to pursue surrogacy around September 2007 and found F online. There are a few message boards devoted to surrogacy, and they have classifieds on which surrogates and IPs can post ads and attempt to find a match. Because I am an obsessive researcher, I started lurking on these message boards and the classifieds sections. One day I found an ad from F and I felt chills. She was local. She had been a surrogate before. She had three kids of her own. She wanted to pursue another surrogacy, and she wanted to match independently (no agency involvement; the IPs and surrogate handle the details). She sounded perfect!
She and I started emailing, and we met her and her husband in November 2007. After that meeting, we tentatively agreed to match, but we couldn’t make it official until after she gave birth. In February 2008, we had dinner with her, her husband and her kids. In March 2008 we started working on the contract. Due to various issues (sick cat, slow attorney), the contract wasn’t signed and notarized until early June. At that point, we started harassing our criminally disorganized clinic so we could start testing and plan our cycle.
How involved are you?
We are very involved. F and I email, text or communicate via Facebook several times a week. We talk on the phone when we need to (I have an aversion to the phone). J and I have gone to every appointment and were in the room with F when the doctor transferred our embryos into her. F’s previous IPs were out of state, so she usually went to the appointments alone, and she likes that we are able to come along. I’m in the process of recording our voices for F to play to the baby.
F is great. She lets me know every time there is a new milestone with the baby. A lot of recent communication has been about how much movement she is feeling. She is trying very hard to describe each sensation as vividly as possible so that we can understand it and feel involved. She also deals gracefully with my frantic, “is everything ok?” queries. Since this is her 5th pregnancy, I rely on her to let me know what is normal or abnormal and try not to panic!
Are there laws governing surrogacy?
In some states, yes. North Carolina doesn’t have any laws specifically addressing it. That’s both good and bad. Good because we can do it. Bad because there isn’t a precedent on the books in case there were a problem. Some states ban surrogacy outright or prohibit paid surrogacy. Some states require IPs to adopt their own child after it is born. Thankfully, in NC we can obtain a PBO which will list our names on the birth certificate and let us leave the hospital with the baby.
Is F a professional surrogate? Is surrogacy her job?
In a word, no. No, no, no, no. F is a stay-at-home mom, but many surrogates work outside the home. It’s actually perceived as an insult to insinuate that surrogacy is a job or that a surrogate is an IP’s employee. It also suggests taboo topics like women selling their bodies. So let’s not go there. It’s a complicated situation. There are some aspects of the relationship that do resemble a job, but that trivializes what is an amazing partnership. We couldn’t have this baby without F. The fact that she is willing to give up a year or more of her life (testing, cycling and the subsequent pregnancy) as well as her family’s life to carry a baby for another couple, a pregnancy that she experiences 24/7 because she wants to help them build a family. I can’t call that a job. I thank God there are women like her.
Did you see Baby Mama?
No. And I won’t ever. I like Tina Fey, but that movie is insulting to surrogates and infuriating to those with infertility. It is NOT an accurate representation of a surrogacy journey.
Aren’t you the luckiest “pregnant” woman?!?!
Sure, it’s nice that I can enjoy a glass of wine while “pregnant”, travel easily, do whatever, but of course I wish that I were able to experience the pregnancy. We are lucky that science has advanced to the point where we can have a baby thanks to IVF and surrogacy. We are lucky that there are amazing women like F who are willing to carry another couple’s baby for them. Surrogacy is in no way the “easy” way to build our family, but I’m thankful it is an option.