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Friday, January 5, 2018

The "Why's" of my Surrogacy Journey

There is no one, simple answer to why I am embarking on this journey. As Aristotle said, "The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts". Some of these were original reasons to continue to pursue consideration and with me from the beginning, and some were collected along the way, further solidifying the decision to move forward. Yes, some (ok, many) of these are admissions that I'm not a 100% altruistic person. If I'm being honest, I'm doing a lot of this for selfish reasons. But, I pride myself on my authenticity, so that's what I'm giving.

  1. The Money. Let's get this one out of the way. Yes, I am being paid for this journey. And I have to be honest, I would not be doing it if I wasn't. Pregnancy comes with risks, and it's not a walk in the park (especially for me). While I try to be a generous person, this type of thing is not something I would do without adequate compensation and mitigation of risk. And the money my family will receive from this will help us tremendously. It will replenish our emergency fund. Pay for the kitchen remodel we just had done that I had waited more than a decade for. Perhaps get us a once in a lifetime family trip to Disney World. 
  2. I'm Special. Selfishly, this journey makes me feel special. During my initial introduction interview with my agency, I asked the question "How many women actually inquire about surrogacy vs actually qualify and end up being surrogates?". The answer was shockingly low; just over 5%. At that point I was still considering surrogacy, but that answer pinpoints the change from curiously contemplating to decisively pursuing. In my mind, there was a reason I had been led down this path, and the odds were incredibly against me qualifying. At that moment, I knew that I was going to see this through, and if somehow I defied most odds, it was meant to be. And if it was, it would mean I was unique. I was special.
  3. Changing a Life. I've always loved the idea of physically giving of myself in a way that helps or saves others. Call it a hero complex. I donate blood regularly. I love knowing that I'm helping to save lives. I'm a registered bone marrow transplant and organ donor. I have fantasies about being in the right place at the right time to save someone's life; pushing out of the way of a moving vehicle, performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking person, etc. A highlight of the last year was helping an overheated and incoherent woman over the finish line of one of my races and getting her to the medic tent, knowing that she would have probably passed out by herself and delayed getting the care she needed if I had not been there to help. I know it's selfish, but it makes me feel good about myself. You can't choose to be in the right place at the right time and safe a life. But with surrogacy, I CAN choose to grow a life, and give a family to someone who wouldn't have one without me. And that's as good as it gets.
  4. For the Experience. This is going to be a really cool experience. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm into strange, random things. The crazier the better. Life is too short to be bored. And it doesn't get any more interesting than this.
  5. For my Daughters. Aurora was only a year old when I got pregnant with Abby, and had just turned 2 when I had her. She will likely have few lasting memories, if any at all of Abby's pregnancy and birth. And Abby has nothing. The girls will be 7 and 9 by the time my surro baby is born, and they will be able to experience and remember the excitement of the entire pregnancy and birth with understanding, wonder and curiosity. Most of my friends and family know I am a staunch natural birth advocate and ardent feminist. This is a great opportunity to show my girls first hand how amazing the pregnancy and birth process can be, and how powerful women are for what they are capable of. And I want to show them the importance of taking charge, being our own advocates and making our own decisions during the process, as unfortunately so few women do. I feel this is of the utmost importance for a future time when (if) they decide to have their own children.
  6. For the Science. I've always been fascinated by research and medical advances. Of course being both staff and alumni of UCSD (currently ranked 5th in the nation for total research and development expenditures by NSF), it was in my education, and is in the work I do every day. When I was a student I signed up for every research study I qualified for (besides the risky experimental drug ones). I was happy to be providing information to further scientific study, and usually I learned something fun about my own specific body. Surrogacy is sort of the ultimate personal scientific study. I'm getting to learn just how perfect (or not) of a reproductive specimen I am. My thyroid levels are a little high. Normal, but high. Interesting. And pregnancy usually elevates those levels. That's probably why I was such a hot body after my pregnancies and it never left me. The blood flow to my uterus is a little low on the left side. Curious. And you can help that out with acupuncture. Things I never would have found out. And I'm only now starting this journey, 5 days into the med cycle. I'm going to be on a slew of drugs and hormones over the next 2 months. I'm very interested to see how my body reacts to them all. Who knows what other fun tidbits I will discover.
  7. For Love. For Justice. For Feminism. My journey is partially a protest statement. The agency I chose (All Families Surrogacy) stole my heart, as they were founded on the premise that anyone deserves a family, regardless of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. I wanted to support this cause, as it is near and dear to my heart. I had no idea what kinds of Intended Parents (IPs) I would be potentially matched with, and when asked if I had any specifications for who I would carry for, I did not give any limitations. I was adamant that all profiles should be considered for me. It broke my heart to think that someone was waiting for a surrogate and had not been matched because they were from a less desirable demographic, in a world where the surrogate calls most of the shots. Who I ended up matching with could not have been a more perfect match. My Intended Mother (IM) is an inspiration to me. Her and her husband tried to conceive on their own, and were unsuccessful. When it was clear that she was unable to carry her own children, her husband left her. She is Chinese, and culturally, this sort of situation would typically signal the door to a family slamming shut forever. But she sought out an agency and the highly reputable RE associated with them (Oregon Reproductive Medicine) to secure her own embryos and pursue a family alone. She has been able to secure several boy and only one girl embryo. Culturally, only two years past the 1 child rule, there is still strong gender disposition towards men, and most other Chinese women in her position would try for the boys first. But she is again, breaking all cultural stereotypes and is hoping that her only girls takes on this first try. What a freaking amazing woman!!! I feel as if it's possible I was meant to carry for her and her alone.
  8. Jacobs! I was always really sad I didn't get to deliver at UCSD's new and incredible Jacob's Center. And now, I do!!!!!!
  9. UCSD's Women & Infant's PAFAC. I'm a member of our Patient and Family Advisory Council. I have been for about 6 years. My role on the committee is as a patient, but at this point, my experience as a patient was pretty stale and losing relevance with every passing year. I'll now have fresh perspective and feedback to provide to this council that I am so dedicated to. To boot, it will be a unique angle, as a surrogacy pregnancy has uncommon process aspects to it.
Ok so that's all that's coming to my mind at this point. By no means an exhaustive list to be sure! But as you can see, the reasons are varied and all over the place. But together build a strong foundation, and have seemed to "lead" me all to the same place.So here I am!