My Surrogacy Journey

They wanted to start a family and they chose me to help them: Read Ashley's surrogacy story.

surrogacy

My journey started 2 years ago when I first looked into surrogacy. While it wasn’t the right time to start the process, after doing a lot of research over the course of a few months I knew it was something I needed to do, so when the opportunity presented itself I applied to be a surrogate. I never expected to feel so connected to two people whom I had never met before but a unique and life changing experience brought us together.

They wanted to start a family and they chose me to help them. Angie from CFC asked me all sorts of questions for my profile including, would you be comfortable being a surrogate for a gay couple or an international couple, or a single parent? To all of which I replied yes, and I am so glad I did.  However, in doing so I ended up losing some people I once considered friends. When I asked how long it usually takes to be matched with a couple I was told it could take up to 6 weeks, and maybe longer. The next morning, I received an email saying a couple had chosen my profile and if I agreed they would like an introduction. Canadian fertility Consulting attached the couple’s profile, I couldn’t help but cry and smile reading their profile, they sounded amazing. I could tell we had a lot in common just from the few paragraphs they had written. I immediately responded and said yes I to an introduction. It was like waiting for a blind date, I had butterflies, I felt giddy and excited.

I sent an email to them introducing myself and telling them a little bit about myself and asking a bit about them. It turned into us sending emails back and forth all day for a few days before we agreed to officially move forward. This decision changed our lives. I have always had a difficult time trusting people, letting people in is not always easy for me. I have had my fair share of pain and heartbreak. But something felt different with them. I was able to open up to them, and to share my story and history with them and never did I feel anything but understood and cared for. They didn’t just try to get to know me, but also spent time over Skype talking to my son. I could tell they would be amazing dads just from the way they spoke to Nathan. I am one of the lucky ones, some surrogates don’t have this kind of relationship with their intended parents, for some it’s more business-like.

Throughout the beginning of the process we spent a lot of time just getting to know each other, they told me how important it was to them that their child know how he or she came into this world. That they wanted a friendship that would continue after the baby was born. I also wanted this relationship to continue. The idea of carrying a baby for 9 months and then never seeing the baby again was not something I was okay with, and so I was relieved and happy that we were on the same page. After a lengthy screening process that included a lot of blood work, ultrasounds and talking to a counsellor we got the go ahead to move forward.

We started contracts and talked to lawyers, it was all a very overwhelming process. We had to wait on an egg donor, there were a few hiccups with the donor but once that was all sorted out and contracts were signed the donor started the process to donate her eggs and I started the process to link our cycles together. The guys flew to Toronto and once they were done their own testing the clinic took their sperm and the donor’s eggs and created embryos, one of which would soon be their beautiful daughter. I got the news that I would be transferring on September 14th and I needed to start taking the rest of my medication which included a progesterone shot that I would be taking for the next 12 weeks. I am not overly fond of needles, especially having to give them to myself. Thankfully I had an amazing landlord who agreed to help me with the first few needles. However, when I arrived in Toronto I had to suck it up and do it myself. It was hard but I survived and realized—holy crap, I am amazing!

If I have learned one thing from this experience it would be that I have more strength and courage than I ever could have imagined, I feel like I can do anything. When I arrived at the hotel in Toronto I felt sick to my stomach, I was scared to meet Sergio and Alfonso. I just kept thinking what if they don’t like me or if they change their minds once they meet me. I was being silly, because when we met for the first time in person it wasn’t uncomfortable or scary—it felt right. It was like seeing your best friend after a long separation. They came with gifts for both myself and my amazing four-year-old son. We went for dinner and we talked and laughed. We were nervous for the transfer in the morning but mostly filled with excitement. They let me take a nap and we met up a little later for a coffee at Tim Horton’s which has now turned into an addiction for Alfonso! He seriously loves TimBits. We had a late night of talking and just enjoying each others company.

I don’t think I slept at all that night. In the morning we all walked over to the clinic together. We had to wait a while as the doctor was running behind but it just gave us more time to talk. When the time actually came for the transfer they came into the room with me and held my hand. It was an incredibly emotional moment for all of us. It was quick, it took about two minutes and it was done. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around.  They had to leave that evening to fly home to Spain. We said our goodbyes in my hotel room, we hugged goodbye and shed some tears. Even then I knew that these two men were going to be a part of my life forever. Less then a week later I took a test and it was positive. I couldn’t wait to tell them, so we had a plan to Skype that afternoon. I remember saying guess who is having a baby and showed them the test, I don’t think they believed me at first. We all cried and celebrated the exciting news. Over the next few weeks I struggled with the morning sickness and the giant lumps from the progesterone shots. My emotions were all over the place from all the hormones being pumped into my body.

One evening I had some bleeding so I went to the hospital, turns out I had a small bleed in my uterus, we also found out that only one of the embryos stuck. The guys were worried when I told them but more worried about my well being, they told me that they had more embryos and it was my health that was important. Those words meant so much to me. I was told to rest for a week and that it should go away on its own, and thankfully it did. The next few months flew by and we continued to grow closer together. Building this friendship that even the people closest in our lives did not understand. I am so beyond grateful I had their support and love throughout the whole pregnancy because there were days when I was just exhausted and I know they wished they could be closer to help but just having them to talk to made me feel better.

At the 20 week ultrasound it was confirmed that they were having a little girl and that she was healthy. The second trimester was great, I finally had energy and felt like myself again. The third trimester was a different story, I was exhausted and having Braxton hicks contractions constantly to the point where I was no longer able to work because I had an irritable uterus. That was very frustrating for me, I have a four year old son, I need to be able play with him but if I did too much moving I would get contractions. Nathan was having a hard time understanding why I couldn’t do the things I usually did. He wanted to run and jump around with me and I couldn’t and that broke my heart.

Over time things got better and it wasn’t as bad. They were set to arrive two weeks before my due date and we were all anxious for them to get here.The day before they arrived I had my membranes swept and I was one cm dilated. They surprised me by showing up at my apartment and they brought gifts for Nathan and I. We went for dinner and within 20 minutes of being there I started getting contractions every three minutes. After dinner we decided to go get checked at the hospital, turns out I was in prodromal labor. The nurse then told us she thought it would be a few more days before this little girl made her entrance. We went home and got some rest. Over the next few days we anxiously waited for me to go into labor. With each passing day we started to realize that she wasn’t in any hurry and she was too darn comfortable in there. So we just enjoyed our time together. Everyday I felt our connection grow stronger. These two incredible men were not just my friends, they were my family. They spent the next few weeks chasing Nathan and spoiling us both. Nathan adores them, we went to the beach and parks, to see turtles. It was an incredible few weeks. As much as I enjoyed being pregnant I was ready to be done, it was 37 degrees and I was hot and uncomfortable. I was getting irritable and grumpy. I was a day shy of 41 weeks when my doctor swept my membranes again. He set an induction date because we were not overly confident that she would come out without a little nudge. That day Nathan and I went for walks and I bounced on my exercise ball but nothing was happening so at 11:50pm I crawled into bed and two minutes later I felt a pop- and my water broke.

I had a towel tucked between my legs as I rushed around getting things organized for my son to go to his grandparents. My son’s father came over and picked us up and dropped me off at the hospital. I let the guys know I was at the hospital and that they should probably come up. When the nurse checked me I was already 5cm dilated and contractions started strong and fast. I knew right away that this was not going to be like my son’s delivery. He took 27 hours to make his way into this world—that labor was bearable since I listened to music and breathed through it. This was different, I had this horrible pain in my back that just wouldn’t go away no matter what position I was in. I asked the nurse for an epidural but she told me they would the other drugs first. I was unable to do the gas because it made it hard for me to breath through the contractions so she ran me a bath to see if that would help.

I couldn’t focus because the pain was getting worse and there was no relief between contractions because the pain in my back wouldn’t go away. I started to cry, I am sitting in a tub naked and alone and wondering why I chose to do this, I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t strong enough to get through this. The nurse came back and put in an IV and asked if there was anyone she could call. At this point it is 2 in the morning so I tell her to call my son’s father and get him to come back, I could barely breath through the pain let alone speak so she talked to him for me. The guys were still in the waiting room; the nurse gave them updates. Before I went into labor my plan was to have them there for the whole process, I wanted them there. But everything was happening so fast and so painfully I couldn’t consent to them being there.

My main and only focus was to try and get through this. My son’s father showed up, and he was incredible. He was the only reason I made it through. The doctor finally agreed to give me an epidural. At this point I was close to blacking out, I couldn’t open my eyes, I couldn’t breath. They had me sitting up and wanted me to be still as the doctor gave me the epidural. With each contraction I could feel my body pushing. I am trying to tell them what was happening. They checked me and told me not to push because my cervix was still there, but I couldn’t stop it I told them my body was pushing not me. I begged them to just give me a c section because I couldn’t do this. The epidural didn’t work. I felt everything. I yelled at them that she was coming out and the doctor checked again and told me she was right there and told me to give him a few good pushes. I found what little inner strength I had left and pushed, four pushes and she was out.

And suddenly, it hit me.

They had missed it, they missed their perfect beautiful daughter being born and I broke down and cried. The nurses tried to comfort me and reminded me that they wouldn’t be mad they would be grateful that I had just delivered their daughter. I asked the nurse to go let them know that she was okay and that once I was done being stitched up they could come see her. The look on their face when they saw her made everything worth it. They looked at her with unconditional overwhelming love. The same way I looked at my son when he was born. Their dream of being fathers became a reality, and I was part of the reason their dream had come true.

The nurses were wonderful, they showed us all such kindness. They got me all cleaned up and got the baby checked out. The guys went with her to their private room so I could rest for a little bit. They came back shortly and thanked me, they told me they decided to name her Lia. They placed her in my arms. They gave me a few minutes alone with her and I cried. Not from sadness but because this little girl is so loved. Over the next few hours I got tons of snuggles. Alfonso and Sergio were so wonderful, they made sure I felt loved and appreciated and that I got lots of snuggles with Lia. I was able to go home that night and they ended up staying there. I was home alone and couldn’t sleep. I had so many emotions. I was exhausted but just couldn’t sleep. In the morning I drove up to the hospital. I brought coffee for the new dads. Turns out Lia had jaundice so she would be there for a few days. I held Lia while the guys made some calls and showered. I can’t explain how much it meant to me to be able to have that time with her.

She was discharged after a couple of days and the guys went back to their rental. I spent the next few days visiting with them and Lia. Nathan was with his grandparents so I was able to spend time with them without looking after my own little one. The next two weeks went by so fast, we spent everyday together. I knew they were leaving soon and I didn’t feel ready. If I even thought about them going home, I would start to cry. These men and this little girl had become family. It may seem hard to understand for some people but for us, it is simple. We are family.

Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I have ever done. We spent our last night together talking and playing with Nathan. I held Lia for most of this night. When it came time for us to leave I looked at Sergio and he had tears in his eyes and I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I knew I would see them in a few short months and this was not really goodbye but it didn’t make it any easier. We hugged and I kissed Lia and hugged the guys a few more times. Sergio held Lia in his arms and Alfonso walked us to the door. He hugged me one last time and said thank you for the gift of Lia. I didn’t know what to say so I said you are welcome. We said goodbye and walked down the driveway, tears rolling down my face. These guys will probably never know how much I cherish them. They believe I gave them a gift, and I suppose that might be true, but what they do not know is that them being in my life, letting me be a part of their journey,  was a gift to me. I went into this process hoping to help a couple start a family, but I never expected that by doing so that they would also become my family.

 

Ashley Stevenson is 25 years old and I is a single mom to an incredible 4 year old little boy named Nathan.  She is from Vernon BC and spends most of her free time with her son, outside or going to movies. She also enjoys boxing and soccer, but her biggest passion is her son and spending time with friends. After her next surrogacy journey she has plans to join the RCMP. 
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