Surrogacy was something that I was fascinated by from a young age and I have always loved anything pregnancy related. I looked into surrogacy in 2011 after watching a documentary at my parents house.
I’m a single Mum to a son and love him with all my heart, but to me he was all I ever wanted.
However I hated the thought of not ever being pregnant again.
While I was at work I googled surrogacy and how to be a surrogate, and found a small agency and submitted a form. By the time I got home I had received a called from them asking me to fill in a form which I did, and the next steps were a few health checks, then a meeting with a couple was arranged. I had been sent a few profiles and was drawn to the first couple with whom I started my first surrogacy journey with.We had a meeting which my 6 year old son came too, and I explained to him the lady had a broken tummy and I was going to look after their baby in mine.
After a few weeks of cycle tracking and getting to know each other we had decided on the traditional route of surrogacy using my own eggs. The process was very quick but the first 2 attempts didn’t work which was hard to tell the couple, but they were grateful for the chance. They still had hope as we carried on trying, and on the 3rd attempt I fell pregnant to all of our surprise with twins! We all attended scans, consultants appointments, and ante natal meetings together, so we went through everything side by side. They were so supportive and mindful of mine and my sons needs.The pregnancy was pretty straight forward other than morning/afternoon and evening sickness and at the end I was induced at 37 weeks and gave birth after a 23 hour labour naturally to a boy and girl.
The feeling of handing the babies over was the best feeling I’ve ever felt other than the day I had my own son. Nothing compared to handing over the babies to complete their so desperately wanted family.
We had a private room which we shared and after 36 hours I came home and they began there journey as a family. We registered the birth within a few days with my name going on the birth certificate until they could apply for the parental order when the babies were 6 weeks old, which all went very straight forward. Once the hearing took place after a meeting with Cafcass ensuring we were all happy with the arrangement, my name came off the birth certificate and the intended mother’s name went on. It was quite a strange feeling going home especially with the drop in hormones and the baby blues for a day or so but that passed quickly and I knew I couldn’t wait to do it all over again.
Within 13 months I had fallen pregnant again and given birth with a second couple who I met through a friend of a friend, and again a very straight forward pregnancy which this time we had planned a home birth. It was a 4 hour labour (which my son slept through), even though I woke the neighbours up being rather vocal, but I found the experience so much more personal and lovely as we could all be together and there was no rules or restrictions on handing the baby over. The midwives were amazing, and they ran me a bath, which while I was in it they changed my bedding. By the time they helped me back to my bedroom no one would have known I had just had a baby in there.
We all sat together for the first 6 hours, so the baby had all the relevant checks. We ate pizza and watched Come Dine with me. Then off they went again to begin their new life. Honestly the best feeling ever, and not one regret! I always leave the option of it being their choice whether they want to remain in contact, and we all are still to this day.
I took a break and then started a journey again independently. However this resulted in 3 chemical pregnancies and I doubted with me getting older if this was to be. I then looked into host surrogacy (carrying embryos already created either by the couple or donors) which opened my eyes to a whole new world of fertility. Once I embarked on that journey with another amazing couple I started to see the other side to how hard this must have been with all the blood tests, scans, hormone meds and injections but it also fascinated me while, giving me a better understanding.I prepared for my first embryo transfer with counselling, blood tests and scans, then started the medication to prepare my lining and my hormone levels. The day before each scan or test was nerve wracking, but we were all in it together and it’s so important so be supported. I also have amazing friends and family who supported me, and the day of the transfer arrived. I was so nervous but blown away by how quick and pain free the procedure was, it was mind blowing watching the embryos get put in on the screen, and after a few minutes I was told to empty my bladder, (I was petrified they would fall out) and off I went home. I rested and continued with all I had been told, however after the long 2 week wait which felt like a year we got the pregnancy results by blood test, and although positive the numbers were quite low. We repeated them every 48 hours and like they should they kept doubling but still remained low. I started to get some pain on one side. After a few days and some spotting a scan showed sadly it was an ectopic and it ended up with me having a surgery and my right tube removed. It was all a bit of a whirlwind and the recovery was quite uncomfortable as it was done via a laparoscopy. So my tummy and belly button felt quite tender for a while, and the intended parents were amazing even though they had experienced a loss there support was constant, which I’m forever grateful for.
After some time we went for a second transfer which sadly failed. However we decided that we would go straight into the third transfer. Luckily this one took and both the embryos stuck. I did all that the forums suggested, drinking the POM juice and eating 6 Brazil nuts, even the Macdonalds chips straight after the transfer (best bit by far). The bloods rose perfectly and up until 7 and a half weeks both babies looked to be doing well. At an 8 week private scan sadly one of the twins had stopped growing and it’s commonly known as vanishing twin syndrome and sometimes can even go unnoticed as most people don’t have scans until 12 weeks. I had no symptoms and no treatment was needed and the second twin carried on growing perfectly. I was induced as he was quite stubborn, after 3 inductions, having my waters broken and a long labour we ended up having a caesarean as the baby and I were getting tired.
I can honestly say I have loved every minute of being a surrogate and hope to do it again soon.
My friend and I opened Nappy Endings 3 years ago to help match and support others on their journey. I feel anything from pre conception, pregnancy, fertility, child birth, tips and all things surrogacy I would say I’ve pretty much been through. I love to reach out and help others through my own experience.
Each journey has an agreement which has been drawn up so everyone is fully informed, and every eventuality is pretty much covered. I don’t have one regret and hope one day again to do this one last time, famous last words! In the meantime I'll help as many people as I can by sharing my journey's and experience with them and offer support.
Find out more @rachelwestburynappyendings