“ooh! there is a baby at home… is your sister in town”
“No, that’s my baby”
“Don’t be funny… u weren’t pregnant”
“No, I wasn’t. He was born through surrogacy.”
“Huh! How’s that possible?”
. <<Long silence>>
“Did you adopt him?”
As if IVF wasn’t complicated enough to explain, i’m now struggling to tell people what surrogacy entails. How can I have a baby when my husband has been dead these past 3 years and I was never pregnant is beyond most intellects I encounter.
I mean some ignorant trolls have been commenting about how I impregnated myself by sleeping with my husbands look alike to lay a claim on his property <<eye roll>>. DUH! Surrogacy means I WAS NEVER PREGNANT. Though who I sleep with is nobody’s business anyway.
So, putting sarcasm on the shelf for the moment, I would try and demystify the miracle baby here. But first, some basics.
- Reproduction 101 – Women have eggs, men have sperms. When these 2 fuse, they make an embryo, which if attached to a woman’s uterus lining becomes a baby.
- Assisted reproduction 101 – there are many ways to help make a baby when the natural way (i.e. having sex) doesn’t work. This is deep science and an entirely different branch from gynecology. There are many ways it works but the most common ones are IUI and IVF. Based on the case the doctor may suggest the use of couple’s own eggs and sperms or donor eggs and sperms.
For details on how all of this works, refer my post here.
- Surrogacy 101 – Moving on to another aspect of assisted reproduction we come to surrogacy. This is a case where the woman – for whatever reason – is unable to carry a child in her own womb. So the baby doesn’t grow inside her body, but is in most cases genetically/ biologically her own. The surrogate is a woman who carries someone’s child in her belly. If the egg and sperm are the couple’s then the surrogate is just a gestational surrogate. There is also the traditional surrogate where only the father’s sperm is used and the egg is the surrogate’s.
For those who are curious – I used a gestational surrogate. The sperm was Gaurav’s (frozen from our 1st IVF cycle together), the egg was mine, the embryo was created using IVF and then transferred to the surrogate’s womb. She carried our baby – and I am forever thankful – but she is not related to the baby in any way. Biologically and legally the baby is mine and Gaurav’s.
Is surrogacy a good option?
Now that’s a loaded question. I went with it because I saw no other choice. I was left with last few embryos and if they didn’t work I’d be left with no baby and no chance to bring Gaurav back. That said, should you as a couple looking to have a baby but unable to do so – choose surrogacy? It depends on many factors.
Would adoption be an option for you? If you just want a baby and are not fixed on him/her having your genes.. then it might be a better choice overall. Not only because it gives a child a home, but also it might be less emotionally, physically, and financially draining.
Then there is the question of finding the surrogate. Many people go for friends and family. But it’s a very big favor to ask of someone. And whoever carries the baby will always have the attachment with the baby – and that may become a challenge in case of contrasting parenting styles.
As of now commercial surrogacy is still an option in India. Though the costs might be prohibitive. You can find a surrogate through an agency who will for a certain fee carry the baby. There will be minimal contact with the surrogate (that’s how it is in India) and you get the baby after the term is over. There is no involvement of the surrogate post delivery. The channels you go through are most important here – because like everything involving money, there is a high chance that women might be exploited in this process. So make sure you choose an ethical agency to work with.
You must also consider the fact that not being pregnant yourselves, you’ll find that you are parents overnight – you must be ready to adjust to that. And of course then there are people who don’t understand it – who’ll keep twisting the facts and annoying the hell out of you. I mean some people in my family are just happy to say that my baby was adopted!!! Hello! Stop creating stories – if you don’t get it, just shut the F up.
Then finally, the question is when the baby grows up – do you tell him/her they were born via surrogacy? What’s the story you will want to tell?
The whole assisted reproduction journey must not be embarked on lightly. It takes a lot out of you – and the success rate is only just about 40%. And the emotional toll of that is VERY high – even if you are someone who can afford the process.
And yes there are many more questions that a small blog like this cannot cover. I am happy to answer any. Just leave a comment with your details and your questions ( I won’t publish it) and i’ll write back to you.