Q&A With A Surrogate - Cassie Answers Your Questions
After recently receiving some controversy over on our Instagram platform surrounding the topic of surrogacy, it gave us the idea to carry out a Q&A with a surrogate herself, hearing from her firsthand experience and gathering her thoughts and feelings.
The topic of surrogacy is a highly controversial one. There are many different laws in place around the world regarding surrogacy and consequently, many different views. In some big parts of Europe, surrogacy is frowned upon and is in fact illegal. In other countries, only altruistic (not paid for) surrogacy is legal. For example, in the United Kingdom and Australia, it is illegal to pay or accept payment for surrogacy.
In countries such as Russia and some states of America, both commercial (paid) and altruistic surrogacy are legal. In some tragic cases, disadvantaged women are exploited by this business and forced into commercial surrogacy due to their financial circumstances. But we have to learn and know how to differentiate between consensual (altruistic) surrogacy and problematic (commercial) surrogacy.
We wanted to highlight and share the story of a positive surrogacy experience which was carried out through generosity and is nothing more than a selfless act of kindness.
Cassie is a mom of three and is currently pregnant with her fourth child. She started helping childless couples have their own children by donating her eggs, and eventually became a surrogate herself.
In 2015, Cassie sadly experienced a miscarriage. Her gynaecologist told her that due to how fertile she was, if she decided to go on and have another baby, she would have no issues falling pregnant. After hearing that from her gynaecologist, it led her to the idea of egg donation.
Cassie donated to a male same-sex couple from the Blue Mountains, and then went on to donate to another male same-sex couple from Melbourne. Her second egg donation was carried out while she was going through the surrogacy process. Cassie joined a Facebook page called 'Australian Surrogacy Community', where she met another male same-sex couple - Chris and Juan.
Cassie started getting to know Chris and Juan before eventually meeting face-to-face with them. Chris and Juan already had a son, Anxo, who was born via surrogacy in Mexico before they had met Cassie. Chris says while he and Juan were planning for baby number two, they heard about the Facebook page and joined with no expectations. They found Cassie, they got on really well, and it was the perfect match!
Q&A With Cassie
What were your personal reasons for becoming a surrogate?
"For me, it was about helping others to achieve their dream of a family. I know personally the joy that children bring to our lives and I wanted others to have that same joy."
Is it hard to carry a child you know won't be yours? Do you think gestational surrogacy is easier than traditional surrogacy in terms of emotions/attachment?
"I can only speak for gestational surrogacy as I haven’t done traditional surrogacy but for me it wasn’t hard. It was never about the child really it was more about the parents. The more I got to know them the more I wanted to give them a child. I went into it knowing he wasn’t mine. I didn’t feel the same sense of connection as I did with my own. I would talk to him on a daily basis but it was different types of conversation. I would tell him about his dads and his big brother. The closer we got to the due date the more excited I became for his dads. It was actually very easy for me."
What strong emotions do you go through? How do you process and deal with them?
"After birth I was contending with my hormones being all over the place. It was mostly due to the complications though not so much having the baby. That didn’t hit me until almost 2 weeks after the birth when they had gone home. It was like my body was telling me I am meant to have a baby and I was freaking out because I couldn’t see him. Once I seen him though and gave him a cuddle I was completely fine. All I could really do was take it one day at a time but it really wasn’t that hard for me. Regular photos and seeing him helped to put my emotions at ease. I felt a major sense of accomplishment though seeing him with his dads and seeing how much they loved him so that I think made it all a lot easier. It was difficult though when he was a few months old and they went to Spain and I didn’t see him for over 4 months. There was a period in the middle when I broke down and became very emotional and if I had a passport I probably would have gotten on a plane. I was on my period at the time though so hormones were so much worse and I was fine a few days later. Now it’s easy. Some days I actually forget I birthed him."
What is the process like?
"It was long. There was a lot of counseling, legal and hoops to jump through. Medical appointments and lots of blood tests. It was all very exciting though. With every thing that we ticked off the excitement became so much stronger. The pregnancy side of it was very difficult for me as I became extremely sick with hyperemesis gravidarum which is a very extreme form of morning sickness. I was in and out of hospital and needed a lot of medication just to be able to get out of bed."
How did you deal with fears of complications? Were they the same fears as with your own children?
"I didn’t have any fears in regards to complications during the process or pregnancy. I told the dads and my partner that nothing would go wrong, it would be super quick and we would all go home a few hours later. Turned out I was wrong and probably should have been a bit worried. I lost 3 litres of blood after a very long labour and needed emergency surgery. I was advised it was not safe for me to carry again which caused a lot of emotional problems for me."
What can others do to respect you as a surrogate? I.e. what language is supportive/hurtful? What do you wish people understood?
"Just respect that it is our decision to do this. To us we are not giving away our child we are giving back yours. I hated the term surrogate mother, I am not his mother, just his super cool aunt. We don’t get paid for surrogacy in Australia as it is altruistic only. It is not illegal to be a surrogate and we are not going to jail if someone finds out what we are doing and it is a decision we have made on our own without anyone forcing us into it."
How did being a surrogate impact your own relationship? How did you talk to your partner about accepting your desire to be a surrogate?
"Telling my partner was actually very easy. I just straight out said I wanted to be a surrogate and he said ok. I left it a few weeks and asked again how he felt about it and he said to me “I said ok”.
It was difficult at times but mostly because I was so sick. My partner worked full time and came home to care for his 3 step children so was doing full days at work and then everything at home as well. He had to leave work a few times to come and help me or come to the hospital. I have such a saint of a partner though. He wanted another child though and I didn’t, so when I was told that I shouldn’t be having anymore it made me feel extremely horrible and there was a period where he was grateful I was alive but at the same time so mad at me. He didn’t say it to my face but it showed in the way that he acted towards me. It didn’t last very long though and he was back to being amazing as always."
How did you tell your family and how did they react?
"Explaining it to the kids was probably the hardest part because they were so little. The moment I decided I was going to do it I mentioned surrogacy and explained it in simple terms that sometimes ladies tummy’s won’t carry a baby and need help from another mummy. Once they understood it fully I mentioned to them it was what I wanted to do and kept them up to date with everything along the way. I had my children meet the guys before I offered and when I did offer my kids helped with that as well. Telling my other family was a bit harder. I am sure they thought I was crazy but none of them objected to it or had anything bad to say."
What was it like leaving the hospital without baby?
"The guys and bub were discharged the day before me. I had spent a few days in there so was so keen to get home to my kids. It was really easy though. Didn’t feel like I was doing anything unnatural at all."
How much contact did you have with the fathers during the pregnancy? How much contact do you have now?
"We spoke daily and seen each other as much as we could. They attended most scans and appointments and we caught up on weekends. They then came to stay in the local area at 39 weeks and we spent a fair bit of time together then. We still speak almost every day and we try to see each other at least every month or 2, but as we are 4 hours apart and both lead very busy lives, sometimes it’s a bit hard. They have become apart of my extended family and will remain that way for life."
What advice would you give to others who are considering becoming a surrogate? Is there any advice you would give to those considering surrogacy as their path to parenthood?
"For surrogates: make sure you spend plenty of time getting to know your ips. It’s recommended for 100 awake hours doing things together. Take off your rose colored glasses. We can all get caught up in the excitement that is surrogacy but you want this to work so you need to be focused. Make a list of what your non negotiable things are and STICK to it.
For parents looking for a surrogate: you can not rush this. Be open, be honest, and be yourself. This is a woman and a family that is doing this huge thing for you, not just a uterus on legs. We have feelings and emotions. Help us in anyway you can. I understand time off work isn’t always easy but your surrogate is having to take it off as would you if you were carrying the baby yourself. Make money available for medical needs. You are trusting her with your baby, you should be able to trust her with a credit card. Make meals, hire a cleaner, offer to babysit so her and her life partner can go spend some time together, just be there for them. Oh the big one, we don’t want to keep your baby, we can just have one ourselves if we wanted one. Also hire a birth photographer, that moment goes so fast and easily forgotten (please discuss this with your surrogate first as it’s her hooha on display)."
A big thank you to Cassie for taking the time to answer these questions and for sharing her wonderful experience, and thank you to Chris and Juan of @2_papas_in_oz for putting us in contact with Cassie.
Thanks for reading!
Same Sex Parents x
March 5, 2019