I never thought I’d see the day that I would utter these words: WE HAVE A GESTATIONAL CARRIER. It is still so wild to me and something that I never knew my heart and mind could ever be ready for. But, here we are. It’s happening!
Brad and I began this journey back in 2016 a little over a year after we were married. We went through three natural pregnancies that ended in miscarriage. We then began IVF to genetically test our embryos (a possible cause for our recurrent loss) and hurled ourselves into a life of shots and hormone overload! Our experience with IVF took us through two egg retrievals, two failed frozen embryo transfers, a “mock embryo transfer”, and finally one successful embryo transfer that also ended in miscarriage.
At this point (and 3 years later), we were exhausted. Our doctor, as well as many other opinions we sought, had no idea what was causing our recurrent loss. Doctors would say things like: “Well, you have a very interesting case.” “I can’t think of anything else to test for.” “It’s either you or the embryos.” “I suggest trying again.” “You’re still young.” “I advise discarding your current embryos and starting over.” These statements sent us into a whirlwind of confusion, anger and pain. It left us feeling like we were on our own. That there was nothing left to “tweak” or make changes to. We began to feel like we were on a continuous loop with no end in sight.
Should We Get a Gestational Carrier?
The desperation we were feeling to have a family mixed with the lack of faith in my body at this point, was all-consuming. We just couldn’t make sense of continuing to do the same thing over and over and seeing the same result. And on top of that, the pain and emotional strain my body and our hearts were being put under for so long seemed unbearable. The topic of a gestational carrier came up well over a year and a half ago. While it wasn’t something our doctor thought we should do yet, they also didn’t advise that it was a bad idea either. I can tell you…. That has been the hardest part about this decision. Which is in part why it took us this long to finally begin the process of looking into a gestational carrier. My heart and my mind were playing tug of war. The logical part of me thought that getting a carrier made sense. It would give us an opportunity to see what could happen if our embryos were put into someone else other than me. But my heart, my innate desire to carry our babies and feel them grow inside of me, was holding me back.
It was at this point that I needed time. We both did. While Brad was on board much sooner than I was, I needed to take a moment to breathe again. Our life had been an ongoing soap opera of sorts to us. Continuous hormone shots, pregnancies, miscarriages, procedures… I felt like a science project. I felt abnormal. And the heartbreak was just SO much. So, we took a breather. It was during this time that I waited for God to tell me what to do. We prayed about it. We went to church. I asked God to help me decide. Should we get a carrier? Will it even work? Can I emotionally handle this process? I waited.
After about a year of ping-ponging back and forth, I finally felt more of a peace about the idea. God was slowly healing my heart (as much as it could be healed) and preparing me for this. While I wasn’t jumping with excitement, I was ready to dip my toe into the water per se. We definitely approached the process slowly and step by step. Too much sudden movement may have sent me heading for the hills. I had to actively prepare for each new step and really lean on Brad and the Lord. I’m so thankful to be on this journey with a man like Brad and to feel rooted in our faith and trust in His plan for us.
What is a Gestational Carrier?
For those of you who may not know, a gestational carrier (GC) is a type of surrogate who carries and delivers a child for another couple. They do not have a genetic link to the child. The embryo is created with the egg and sperm of the intended parents and nothing is donated from the carrier. In order to transfer the embryo, the carrier must go through IVF.
The Process of Finding a GC
Once Brad and I were on board and ready to get started with the process, we began to search for agencies that represented gestational carriers across the country. We did not have a family member or friend who could carry for us, so we began looking at profiles of women from all over. This was tough for me. First of all, there are SO many agencies and it’s hard to know where to look. Then, we began to overanalyze everything about each person. It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to search for a woman to carry your baby for you. There are so many worries that go into selecting someone to take care of the most important thing in your world. Each new profile was harder than the next. It became so overwhelming to me that I shut down for a bit and the process stalled for a few months. I would get so upset over new profiles and continuously feeling like my body had failed me. That this was my life. Like I said, a constant tug of war.
Hiring a Service
On top of the emotional rollercoaster I was going through looking at profiles, Brad was growing tired of searching for new agencies and pulling new profiles. We felt like we were beginning to waste so much time and not really moving forward. We knew that something needed to change.
We discussed the option of hiring a service to find a GC for us. This was honestly the best decision for us. We hired a concierge service to streamline the process. We hopped on a call and went over the characteristics we were looking for in a carrier. I want to preface that anyone seeking to be a carrier truly has the most giving and selfless heart to offer their body to give another couple a child. However, it is SO daunting to choose the person who will do it FOR YOU. Just think about that for a second. If you are a parent, how hard would it have been to select a stranger to carry your child sitting next to you? Pretty tough to think about I’m guessing. It was for us. So, we wanted to make sure that whoever our carrier would be, left us feeling at peace. We wanted someone that had similar beliefs and interests to us. That we would get along with her and her partner if she had one. We would be potentially forming a very intimate relationship with this person and wanted to make sure we aligned and could truly grow close during the process and beyond. It was a huge decision.
The use of the service took us out of the searching and alleviated some of the stress of looking every day. The search took a few weeks. They sent us a few “match profiles” (based on what we were looking for in our carrier) but declined them for different reasons.We truly leaned on God and waited for Him to make the selection clear. It had to feel “right.”
Matching With Our Carrier
After one match that we liked fell through (they got cold feet and didn’t show up for our Zoom call twice), we were sent our current GC’s profile. It was an IMMEDIATE YES! We loved her and her husband so much. They were everything that we had been searching for and then some. It was like God picked her just for us. She’s so sweet and amazing and her husband is so supportive.
Once we saw her profile, we told our agency we wanted to “make contact”. Our agency reached out to hers and sent over a letter we wrote to potential carriers, as well as some photographs. That way she could get a little insight into who we are and our story. She later told us that reading our letter brought her to tears and she felt so good about us.
Once she knew she wanted to chat with us about potentially being our GC, a Zoom call was set up a few days later between her and her husband, her agency, our agency and us. It was so intimidating and nerve-racking! I was pacing the house for like an hour before it started. So much led us to this conversation and so many emotions on overdrive. While I was still so heartbroken that I wasn’t going to be the one to carry our baby, I was excited for her to potentially be. It’s a very strange feeling to put into words.
The call lasted about an hour and it was so easy to talk to them. They are the nicest people. After the call, Brad and I knew that we wanted to move forward and have her be our carrier. We called our agency and let them know. Our carrier and her husband did the same thing to their agent. It was official! We all felt that God was truly at work. He just did this amazing thing.
Contracts + Legal + Financial
Now that we were ready to move forward together, we began all of the steps to get contracts, legalities and financials set into motion. This whole process took a couple months. Here’s a brief little explanation:
First, we had to get the contracts underway before we could start scheduling doctor visits and appointments. We hired an attorney that specializes in adoption and surrogacy. He wrote up the contract for our review and then it was sent to our carrier and her attorney. Once we had that completed and signed, we were ready to move on to the financials.
Gestational carriers get a flat stipend for being a GC. This varies based on how many times she has been a carrier, as well as where she lives and the cost of living. On top of her compensation, all medical expenses, doctor visits, medications, life insurance, loss of wages from missing work, childcare, maternity clothes, travel costs, etc are also part of the payment coverage for a carrier. We had to set up an escrow account with funds available for these expenses along the way. The agency she chose (who we now work with as well) have been really organized with this process so far. Now that all the legalities and financials were set into place, it was time to start prepping!
Prepping for Transfer
Now that we were ready to get started, it was time for her to meet with our RE (reproductive endocrinologist). Brad and I decided to change clinics at the last minute. We had been with our doctor throughout our entire journey (although we did get other opinions) and loved him. But, we decided a fresh start was a good idea for us. Also, the new clinic was going to do a couple extra things our clinic didn’t do: embryo glue, intralipid IV infusions, and a platelet rich plasma uterine flush. And yes, I’m a little sad that I didn’t have these extra measures for our transfers but I have to remind myself that life doesn’t work that way. What was meant to be, was. We were glad that our carrier had the option for these treatments though. Any little extra measure sounded good to us!
Because we were switching clinics, we did have to move our frozen embryos over. It was super crazy and scary to move them. We had to pick up a large tank and take it to our old clinic. The embryologist put them in and we drove them back over to the new clinic. Here is a picture:
Screening and Doctor Visit
Due to distance, our GC was able to do her screening appointment, ultrasound and blood work where she lives. Her records were sent to our clinic and our doctor gave her the okay to proceed. About a month before the transfer, she came out with her husband and met with our doctor and had a hysteroscopy with a trial transfer to get her prepped for the actual embryo transfer.
It was on this trip that Brad and I were able to officially meet her and her husband. We went to dinner and had the best time getting to know them better and connect on more of a personal level. It solidified how happy we are that we chose her to be our GC. She truly has the sweetest and most gentle heart. Just adore her.
About a month later, they came back out for the embryo transfer. We all went to dinner the night before and celebrated the amazing journey we were starting the next day.
Brad and I chose to not attend the transfer. Due to Covid or procedure room rules (still unclear), both of us were unable to be there and it didn’t feel right for only one of us to go. I don’t think I could have emotionally handled it without Brad with me. So, our GC had her husband in the room with her and they kept us up to date on how things were going.
The transfer itself went great! Her and her husband went back to their hotel for “Princess Rest” for 72 hours. She had to lay low and let her body rest and hopefully get pregnant. After the 72 hours, they headed back home and we are waiting to find out if the transfer is successful. We find out next week. Which is 11 days post transfer. She will go in for a blood HCG test to check if she is pregnant. If she is, we will be praying like crazy that she stays pregnant – obviously a major concern and worry for us with our history with loss.
Waiting To Find Out
So, what is going on right now? Well, we are getting little updates here and there from our GC and keeping in contact until next week! We have no idea what to expect or what is up ahead for us all of us on this journey, but we are staying hopeful and putting it all in God’s hands. It’s all we can do. It’s all we should do.
Here we go, baby! We hope to meet you here on Earth so soon.
And to our beautiful GC, thank you just isn’t enough. We are blessed that you are a part of this journey with us. We adore you.
Oh, did I mention it’s a boy. 🙂