Surrogacy is definitely something people love to talk about. For those who don't know, surrogate mothers carry other people's babies for them, often for a fee. These women are expected to give their babies away to couples after they've given birth, and simply go on with their lives.
Some surrogates end up giving birth many times during a lifetime. People who seek surrogate mothers usually can't get pregnant themselves. They might be couples who want children of their own. But in some rare cases, perfectly healthy mothers might choose surrogacy for their own personal reasons.
Truth be told, there's a lot about surrogacy that most moms never reveal. These little details are usually swept under the rug, and you'll only find out about them if you pursue surrogacy yourself. Sometimes, there are issues with surrogacy that we never hear about. There might also be unheard emotional issues that surrogates deal with. And sometimes we just never hear about the funny, strange and quirky details that surrogacy brings. These little detail paint an accurate picture of what it's really like to go through with this. We found 20 women who willingly shared some of their own experiences with surrogacy.
20 Triplets Come With Issues
With surrogate mothers, a common practice is to add multiple embryos to try and increase the chance of getting pregnant. The problem is that this sometimes raises the chance of getting pregnant with multiples. Twins are common with surrogate pregnancies, but as one mother points out, having triplets can come with many potential issues.
One woman explains, "The [chance of having] twins is higher with [certain treatments], but we don't go into triplet territory... it is too risky to me and babies. Doctors are much better now at not having to use lots of embryos to get a pregnancy. They use fewer and have much more first time success. Parents aim for 1 and actively make choices to avoid 3 happening."
19 Surrogacy Doesn't Come Cheap
Few people realize how expensive it really is to pay for s surrogate pregnancy. When it's all said and done, it's actually more expensive than many people can afford. This makes it obvious that for most of the people who choose this route, it's their only option. One woman explains just how much it costs:
"After it was all said and done, we paid around 120k. It would have been less money and less time but our first surrogate [lost the pregnancy]. After that happened we wanted to transfer two embryos to increase our chances - she was told by a medical professional not to transfer two because a previous delivery issue. So we had to find another surrogate and do another transfer."
18 Some Women With College Degrees Become Surrogates
Sometimes, there's an unfair stigma placed upon surrogate mothers. Many people get the picture that these women are uneducated, poor, or desperate. But as one surrogate mother points out, this isn't always the case. She's actually a very successful woman in her own right, and she even has a college degree. It just so happens that she chose to be a surrogate.
"I am a Navy veteran with a college degree who decided to become a surrogate mother. At first I went into this thinking it would be a one-time thing, but I have enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would, so more and more I am thinking I would do it again. It's just so rewarding on so many levels."
17 Some Women Compare Themselves To "Storage Units"
It's interesting to see how some surrogate mothers rationalize the entire experience in their minds. Without a doubt, it can be a very confusing time for these women, and they have to somehow come to terms with the somewhat strange situation they find themselves in. One woman rationalized it in a pretty unique way:
"I went into this with a very open mind and with the express desire to help another couple have a baby of their own. The baby has never been mine and I have never wanted it to be. It's like babysitting, long term. I compare myself to a glorified storage unit sometimes."
16 Some Surrogates Are Open To Meeting The Kid They Carried One Day
One of the biggest issues with surrogacy comes at the very end of the process. When the surrogate mother gives birth, she is expected to leave that child behind forever, even though the baby might be biologically related to them. Well, in the case of this woman, she's open to meeting her child one day:
"I'm completely open to the kid finding me. They have a picture of both our families hanging in the baby's nursery, I don't think they have any intention of hiding this from her. I'm proud of what I did, and I'm happy I was able to help them. The rent-a-womb was more about the the maternal bond that can develop during pregnancy. I would absolutely do it again, and plan to, as my couple wants a sibling."
15 Sometimes, It Doesn't Go Well
With all pregnancies, there's a chance that it won't go to plan. This can be troubling for any woman, but it's especially troubling for surrogates. These failures are more impactful in many ways, because the pain might be caused by someone else, pressuring the woman into being pregnant. One husband of a surrogate admitted that his wife is undergoing her second surrogate pregnancy, and it's not going well at all...
"My wife is carrying her second surrogate baby, she is due in the fall. The first one everything went perfectly but the current one is not doing well at all. "
14 Some Surrogates Don't Ever Feel Attached To The Baby
While some surrogates might have trouble giving up their child, others just don't feel that level of attachment. These women go through the entire process with little emotional turmoil, and they find surrogacy pretty easy in the long run. One woman admits that she never felt attached:
"Honestly I never felt all that attached. I went into this agreement with the mindset of being a 'rent-a-womb.' Plus I came to really really like my couple so I was more excited to give them a baby than about me having one. To top it all off, my youngest was less than a year and half old when I got pregnant with the surro baby, so I had a constant reminder of how much I didn't want another baby."
13 The Couple Can End Things If They Choose
You might not be aware of this, but the couple who pays for the surrogacy has the option to actually terminate the pregnancy. Usually, this is due to multiples. If there are more babies than the couple wants, they actually have the option to terminate the pregnancy, and this is usually stipulated in the contract. One woman explains in detail:
"One of the important things covered in matching surro to couple and in the contracts is the possibility of multiples. There are couples that only want one, and if twins happen, it should be in the contract that the surro is willing to terminate if the parents so choose. For me, I would not carry more than two, if I'd become pregnant with triplets, the parents would have had to choose to terminate one."
12 The Surrogacy Industry Isn't Always Pleasant
Truth be told, there are some ethical issues with surrogacy. It's become an established fact that some women become surrogates because they are poor and have little options. This is especially true in third world countries. But even in places like Canada and Germany, surrogacy is actually against the law. One woman explains the problems with surrogacy:
"This is perhaps a somewhat [divisive] opinion, but I'm highly skeptical to surrogacy in general. I think it is borderline unethical and commoditizes women's bodies in yet another way. I fear that it leads to many [...] things, such as taking advantage of women in vulnerable positions."
11 People Can Judge You For Choosing A Surrogate Birth
While most people are totally supportive of a couple's decision to pursue a surrogate pregnancy, others can be more judgmental. This is definitely a barrier that many couples face, and it's something that a lot of people don't consider when they go into this arrangement. One woman definitely experienced judgement for her decision:
"Me and my husband want to use a surrogate for our pregnancy, everyone is judging us. I really do love the idea of being a mom, and having a little mix of me and him and raising a little human. However, the idea of being pregnant and giving birth is positively [unpleasant] to me. My mother in law is very religious. She has openly voiced that she thinks surrogates, [...] etc. is so unnatural and that it shouldn't be allowed for humans to 'play God.'"
10 She Never Wants To Do It Again
Surrogate mothers can have varying experiences with the whole ordeal. Some love it, and continue to do it time and time again. Others have rather negative experiences, and vow never to go through with ever again. One woman never wants to do it again, and she explained why:
"The money varied between 12k for the first one and 35k for the last because I was considered 'proven' by that point and there was never any drama with me. And no, I'd never do it again. It just quit being fun. I wasn't enjoying being pregnant so much by the end of the last one. I did enjoy seeing the joy on the parents' faces when they got their babies, but being pregnant was starting to take a toll on my body."
9 Some Surrogates Get Extremely Paranoid
One thing that women might not share about their surrogacy is the level of paranoia they feel during the entire pregnancy. Because they are being pregnant as a career choice, they feel like their choices and overall "performance" is something that is constantly being judged. Many surrogate mothers feel that they have to be extremely careful about what they eat, for example. One woman explains in more detail:
"I was so paranoid about everything I did during my surrogate pregnancies. You worry about what you can and can't eat and drink and what medications are OK even more than you do with your own. Worrying that the [babies] were perfect and if they weren't would the parent's blame me... that sort of thing."
8 Sometimes, It Can Cause Complicated Feelings
While surrogacy can be a magical and miraculous thing in many cases, for other couples it can be a source of intense and complicated feelings. Having a child is never a casual thing, and in the case of one couple, they realized they had made a huge mistake when they decided to offer surrogacy services to another couple:
"I [made] my girlfriend [...] be a surrogate for our gay friends. Two years later it's the biggest regret of my life. She didn't want to gave up the baby. In the days after she would cry herself to sleep every night and refused to eat. In these two years I saw this little girl growing and every time I see her I think that she should be with us, that she is our child and can't help but think how much she looks like my girlfriend and our daughters."
7 You Don't Know What Kind Of A Child You'll Get
One that women don't usually share about surrogacy is the level of surety. Simply put, mothers who hire surrogates don't have the same level of control over their child. They won't be able to choose what they eat, and they won't be able to control things like stress levels or certain activities. All of these can impact the child. One mother explains:
"Having a surrogate is the same as adopting from a stranger. You don't know what you're getting. You don't know what that mother went through during pregnancy or the thoughts she had or the food she ate. All of that impacts the baby's DNA. That child is a gamble. Period."
6 Being Born To A Surrogate Can Be Confusing
When we think about surrogacy, we often think about the impact it has on the women and parents involved. But few of us ever consider the effect it has on the actual child. How does a child born to a surrogate mother feel? What kinds of difficulties do they face? Well, one person who had a surrogate mother revealed some of the difficulties they faced, and even admitted that they felt "abandoned" as a small child:
"I was born to one. I didn't understand it at the time so I thought my mother abandoned me. I was not very smart. It's also very hard to explain my family because the surrogate happened to be my 'adoptive' mother's niece."
5 Surrogates Often Donate Their Breastmilk
One thing you might not know about surrogates is that they often end up donating their milk to specialized milk banks. This is something that we never really consider. Surrogates are of course able to nurse, but they won't actually have the child available to give their milk to. One surrogate explains why she chooses to donate her milk:
"I am a two-time gestational surrogate and currently exclusively pumping and donating to a milk bank. I had to submit blood work to confirm I didn't have any [health issues]. Personally, I choose to donate comp free to a local bank. Many surrogates choose to donate to hospitals or other nationwide milk banks that provide milk to preemies. I know my milk is going to local babies who's mothers can't nurse them for various reasons."
4 Surrogates Don't Actually Get Paid Very Much
Many people think that money is the main motivating factor for surrogate mothers. But when you actually do the math, they really aren't getting paid a whole lot. When we consider that it's full-time job that requires 24 hours of attention every day, the hourly wage is almost laughable. One woman explains:
"When you look at the numbers, it looks like a big amount. Then you do the math... Hourly it adds up to about $2-$3 and some change. I always laugh when people say it is about the money. What $2 an hour job would you take that requires you to puke or feel sick around the clock for months, waddle, and sleep awkwardly?
3 Surrogates Have To Get Tons Of Treatments
Most people don't really consider the medical procedures that come with surrogacy, and some of these aren't exactly straightforward. While these treatments are usually simple, there are other injections that need to be administered, such as specialized hormones. These hormones make sure that the mother does not reject the egg.
One mother explains, "Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) are present in organs. There are no HLA components to [...] an egg therefore it is not a concern for rejection.That's what all the hormone injections were for."
2 Surrogates Can Get Very Sad After Giving Birth
Getting sad after giving birth is perfectly normal. Post-birth hormone dumps are real, and they can affect anyone. But surrogates might be especially at risk for this spike in sadness and depression. One surrogate explains that this can be especially tough when there's no one supporting them at the hospital after delivery:
"You may be perfectly fine knowing that you're going home empty-handed but your body and hormones could make you very sad. When I had the twins, they had to be in the special care nursery for a bit and the parents were with them, understandably. When my family couldn't be there with me, I was pretty sad and the hormone dump was no fun!"
1 Husbands Of Surrogates Might Not Enjoy The Experience
We've talked about a lot of factors, but one thing we haven't touched on is how husbands of surrogates feel. We can only imagine what some men might be thinking as they watch their wife become pregnant with someone else's child. One surrogate explains how her husband reacts to the situation, and how he's sometimes not overly thrilled about it:
"My husband doesn't like me being [uncomfortable] near the end, he doesn't like having to listen to me puking at the beginning, and he hates having to clean the litter box since I'm not allowed to when pregnant. But he loves being a father and loves being able to give that gift to someone that otherwise wouldn't get to experience it."