Many of the questions I get about being a gestational carrier start with, “Tell me if this is too nosy, but….” For the record, I don’t think it is too nosy. I LOVE to talk about this. I think that in general most carriers do. Here’s a rundown of your most popular “nosy” surrogacy questions:
Q: Did you know “them” before all this?
A: Yes, they were family friends. Even so, there is a level of required awkwardness when you offer up your womb to someone.
Maybe not quite as awkward as I made it, but I’d like to think a bit of weirdness exists for all carriers when they first say, “Hey, want to borrow my uterus?”
Q: Do you get paid?
A: Yes. Like any job the carrier fee depends on a lot of variables. You work all that out in your contract. HAVE A GOOD CONTRACT. I read every word of our 22-page agreement. It was very interesting! It spelled out all sorts of potential issues that you likely never would have imagined. The contract for a gestational carrier (their embryo – I’m just the womb) is fairly easy. A contract for a surrogacy where the carrier is also donating an egg would be longer and more complicated.
Now if you ask me how much I get paid, yes, that would be too nosy. The thing about being a carrier is that the money isn’t what drives us. Helping people make happy families is what drives us.
Q: Can you still have sex?
A: Yes. We used hormones (So. Many. Hormones.) that basically put me into a menopausal state so I couldn’t get pregnant.
I had so many ultrasounds that they would have noticed if I somehow still did develop and release an egg. We ALSO chose to abstain or use a back-up contraceptive method during various points in the process. It’s one thing to get accidentally pregnant. It’s quite ANOTHER thing to get accidentally pregnant when your womb is already reserved and being meticulously prepared for a different tenant.
Q: Is it like that movie Baby Mama?
A: No, it is basically the opposite of that. First of all, I feel like part of my job is to be an awesome baby-grower. That means eating right, exercising, and general knowledge of how a baby is born. Also, there’s no way I would accidentally already be pregnant. There’s bloodwork and goodness knows how many peeks up in there in the weeks leading up to embryo transfer day to make sure the scene is properly set.
Additionally, on the day of embryo transfer, everyone sits around looking at a screen and WATCHES live as the embryo gets put in to my empty uterus. It’s all very official and oops-proof. And awesome. I should mention that it is awesome.
Q: So, they’re going to watch you give birth? How does your husband feel about that?!
A: I mean, they don’t HAVE to watch if they don’t want to. Personally, I feel like my pregnant body is so different from my normal body that I don’t see them as the same. You want to rub my belly? Great!
I know what you’re all thinking, “It wasn’t the belly rubbing we thought might make your husband nervous!” Yes, my husband is on board for the parents to see their baby being born. I look at it this way: during labor, it’s a horse of a different color down there. There’s nothing sexual about a baby coming out of a body. Fascinating, mind-blowing, amazing, and some might even say “gross”, sure! But sexual? Nope.
I even think it would be cool if they caught their baby together. Talk about up close and personal! (It’s ok to be a little thrown off by that one, even the mom had to take a moment to react after I threw that option out there.)
Q: But what will your son think? Won’t he be confused?
A: Kids have a way of making adult things seem very simple. He asks to see pictures of the baby (a picture I have of the embryo they put in).
He’ll point to my belly and show me where the baby is growing. Then, without fail, the next thing we talk about is WHOSE baby it is. He’ll tell you that, too. Just like it was the most natural thing in the world. It’s their baby. I grow it until it is ready to be born, and then they take their baby home.
Now that’s a story with a happy ending.