I recently put a shout-out on my social channels asking for people to write lists about surrogacy. Not only was the response brilliantly overwhelming. It also educated me to the fact that there are many facets to the surrogacy journey: not just the different people involved and their individuals roles and experience, but also whether you choose surrogacy through an agency or with someone you know.  All so valuable and important. In time I intend to share them all, starting with Helen Loten who Sister-in-Law was her surrogate:

  • We got married in 2012 and started trying for a baby straight away. We were excited; it was something we both really wanted and being mid-thirties we felt very ready for parenthood.

  • One year later, I had become completely obsessed with getting pregnant, yet hadn’t had even a whiff of a positive. We sought medical advice. I think we knew deep down, but it was officially confirmed; we would need IVF.

  • 4 years and 4 failed IVFs later, me approaching 40 and still nothing. Those years were hard. I lost my mum suddenly and unexpectedly in the midst of it all and I felt desperately sad that my mum had been ripped from me and at the same time I was being denied the opportunity to become a mother myself.

  • We were reaching the end of the road with IVF and just as we were starting to consider adoption… our sister in law offered to be our surrogate!! We were overwhelmed with excitement, apprehension, fear, joy… so many feelings rolled into one. Most of all we were extremely grateful.

  • She said she was done creating her family, but had no problem being pregnant again for us. A-ma-zing.

  • The fact that someone would care about us enough to offer something so enormous felt incredibly special. Whether it worked or not, what she had offered was indescribable.

  • We went from feeling like the unluckiest couple in the world, to the luckiest! How many people have a sister in law that would offer to help you have a baby?!

  • I felt so thankful that my brother met this special person all those years ago and that our paths had aligned to get us to this point.

  • We call her our angel. Sounds cheesy but I truly believe she saved us. It sounds terrible but I couldn’t see our future when we couldn’t have children. I knew we had one, but it felt empty and sad. I dreaded it.

  • 4 years of struggling had nearly defeated us.

  • We called ourselves ‘The A team’ because we were just that: a team. In it together. It was also a lovely coincidence that we ended up calling our son a name beginning with A! 

  • So, we started the process. Seeing someone else take medication, go through blood tests and administer injections is hard. (All the while juggling work and 3 young children of her own) We felt guilty. They’re doing it for you. The sheer gravity of what they are putting themselves through is right there in front of you and it hits home how selfless they are being. All to help you.

  • I actually injected my sister in law whilst my brother pinned her down (she hated needles!) we all managed to laugh about it in the end…and after about the 20th blood test at the clinic, she was a pro!

  • It was all so exciting and we had so much hope, but as with our previous IVF rounds, we had that terrible fear in the back of our minds… ‘what if it doesn’t work’

  • We attended clinic appointments together. We laughed, wondering whether people thought we were a couple. Absolutely nothing funny about 2 women having babies through IVF, but as sisters in law it used to make us giggle thinking we might be mistaken for a couple!

  • Every reaction to what we were doing, although sometimes surprised at first, was nothing other than to be completely happy for us. Every single person commented on what an amazing thing we were doing as a family. It was nothing other than positive….

  • …..and then we got a POSITIVE!!! The treatment worked first time.

  • The day we got the blood test results from the clinic I was pacing the room in disbelief. It was really happening. It had worked. At long last. An unbelievable feeling.

  • We had an early scan with the clinic. We saw our little bean on the screen. Only 6 weeks old. But we heard and saw the heartbeat. It was real.

  • Knowing that when you tell people you’re having a baby through a surrogate, they get to learn that you can’t have children yourself. Personal information that you have kept to yourself for many years, laid out there to work colleagues, acquaintances, random family members.

  • Then you realise you don’t care. Literally couldn’t give a s**t who knows about our years of struggle, because we’re having a baby at last and in the most special way. Who cares who knows what?!

  • Baby announcement. I say baby, as it’s not a pregnancy announcement. I wasn’t pregnant. But we were having a baby. “We’re having a baby”

  • “congratulations!”

  • “But I’m not pregnant…”

  • *confused face*

  • And then the explanation…

  • “And you are….?”

  • You get fed up of explaining the situation to doctors/nurses/midwives who are asking who you are and why you’re in the room…in the end you give up, let them call the pregnant person the ‘mum’ get over it and remember that we’ll have our baby soon and a few people calling someone else ‘mum’ a few times didn’t matter.

  • Silly things people would say like “what if the baby prefers your sister in law to you” or “do you worry you won’t bond with the baby?” or “is the baby your egg or hers?” And the worst one… “are you worried she’ll want to keep the baby?”

  • Although the surrogate is legally the mother at birth, I believe instances of surrogates keeping or trying to keep babies is extremely rare. We had total and absolute trust in our sister in law. We believed she wouldn’t have offered to be our surrogate if she didn’t know within herself that she could do it.

  • Breast feeding pressure. Every midwife appointment “how are you planning on feeding the baby” “we’re going to bottle feed” “have you considered breast feeding as it’s best for baby” “Er…yes in my dreams, but as I’m not giving birth, it ain’t gonna happen!”

  • I got to see my baby being born. I feel totally and utterly privileged to have witnessed this little life come into the world. I cut the umbilical cord and was the first to hold him. It was wonderful. I cried (well, wailed!) as he arrived. 5 years of immense struggle had built up to this point and wow was there an emotional release!

  • Telling people ‘the story’ after our son’s birth. At baby groups chatting to other mums, you get the inevitable sharing of birth stories and breast feeding chat. Never easy… and at first I was nervous about ‘telling people’ but as time went on I became extremely proud to tell our story.

  • After his birth, we had to go to court to get him made ‘ours’ legally… the whole surrogacy system in the UK is archaic, we believe the legal process should be completed before birth as neither us or our sister in law wanted our son to be legally hers at birth. Luckily for us it was straight forward, but it could cause huge complications around parental consent if the baby required medication or hospitalisation for example. It’s time to review UK surrogacy law (see link below)

  • Yes I didn’t give birth to him. But he’s mine. Ours. He has my eyes, my nose, my husbands frown and toes.

  • There is not one moment when I look at him and think ‘I didn’t give birth to you’. That’s not to say I don’t remember how very special it is, what his auntie did for us, but what I mean is, now he’s here, it just seems natural, normal. He’s ours.

  • What will we tell our son?

  • To us, that’s an easy one. We’ll tell him he’s extra special. We’ll tell him that he was born with the help of some clever scientists, how cool is that! We’ll tell him that he couldn’t grow in mummy’s tummy so his lovely auntie grew him for us. We’ll tell him that makes both him and his auntie very special.

  • I don’t know any different. I don’t know any other way of having a baby other than our experience so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. Yes, I do sometimes wonder what it would be like to feel your baby move in your tummy, or to pee on a stick and have that excitement of seeing a positive, to have a bump, to go into labour, or actually give birth, but I don’t feel sad about it. We’ve done things differently, we had to, and that’s ok. In fact it’s more than ok, it’s pretty damn special. Just looking at our miracle baby boy reminds us that.

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  • Reply Claire November 23, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Wow – what a wonderful and humbling story. Your sister in law is an amazing Auntie! Lucky little chap x

  • Reply Francesca November 24, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    What an amazing and heartwarming story!

  • Reply Sarah November 26, 2018 at 6:28 am

    I think your sister in law gave a wonderful gift. Welcome to motherhood!

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