I’ll clear up a bit of the terminology first of all. Types of surrogacy include straight surrogacy and host surrogacy.
Host is when you use a embryo that has a different woman’s egg, not the egg of the surrogate mother. The egg can be that of the IM (Intended Mother – the mum to be!) or an egg that has been donated by an Egg Donor (ED)
Straight surrogacy is when the surrogate mother donates her egg to the IM by just adding the IF’s (Intended Father) sperm. Some people are a little more uncertain of straight surrogacy, but for those who help create families like this are very much settled with their belief that their egg would have been flushed away down the toilet each that month anyway, so why not allow some other mother to make use of the egg when they don’t have one to use of their own, for many different reasons.
Straight surrogacy may be done by artificial insemination, by syringe or by using something like a mooncup to put the sperm in place.
Host surrogacy must be done by IVF (In vitro fertilisation). The IP (Intended Parents) do the first part of the IVF and the surrogate does the second part, and has an embryo transfer, with the hope that the embryo implants into her womb lining.
Most surrogates that I know do a medicated cycle. This means doing the down regulating part of the cycle, so the clinic has control over the timings. This needs to be done if a fresh round of IVF is happening, as the surrogates cycle has to match up with the IM or ED’s cycle.
If the embryos were previously created and frozen, then if the surrogate has a reasonably regular cycle, you can do a natural cycle. This is what I did. We then had to monitor my cycle carefully, as the embryo needed to go through the defrosting process on a day that exactly matched up with my womb lining age. It’s a very fine dance, but totally do-able.
Assuming a pregnancy is achieved and the baby is born into its much awaited and loving parents arms, a legal procedure has to happen for the parents to be granted a legal Parental Order.
Here in the UK commercial surrogacy is not legal, and so it is illegal to pay for a surrogate to carry a baby. You do, however, have to cover reasonable pregnancy expenses.
That’s some basic informal stuff. The incredible stuff is in the story. It’s in the seeing of the new family created.
I have been lucky enough to have been able to be a part of such a journey. Carry two beautiful girls for my friends (the embryos were created and frozen many years ago, in the same cycle, and then both babies were born two years apart.
Being a part of the journey that brought about a family was one of the most incredible things that I have ever done. That joy continues now. I have such a blessed relationship with the whole family, as do my own daughters, who have gained so much from this experience too… not to mention the extended family we have now.
My baby making days are behind me now, but I am here to support Surrogates and Intended Parents alike, on a one to one basis… and I also recommend getting involved in a good association such as www.surrogacyuk.org