There & Back Again – An Intended Mom’s Tale

The Beginning

Written by one of our Intended Mothers

Never in my life did I think I wouldn’t carry my own child, especially not after the fight I was giving infertility. To say my uterus was inhospitable is an understatement! I have had the pleasure of dealing with a myriad of issues, a perfect storm for my body. I feel ​it’s now safe to say that my uterus hates me. After 7 years and our 9th failed frozen embryo transfer my physician said he didn’t feel comfortable moving forward with any more transfers until I had surgery. We reviewed the options and he sent me home with a decision to make.

I was defeated, I felt like I had lost the battle and instead of continuing to push forward all I wanted to do was give up. I was tired. Infertility is all consuming and robs you of your dreams. But I knew that I couldn’t give up on trying to have a baby, even if that meant me not carrying it.

Once deciding that I was not going to stop until we created our family one way or another, my next decision was how we were going to do that. I decided to start researching surrogacy as there were so many risks and unknowns in undergoing another surgery, so I made my list of top surrogacy agencies I could find in Canada. One by one, I started reaching out to the different agencies, mulling over the possibilities with my husband while still having my protective walls in place thinking – “Am I just looking? We aren’t actually going to have to go down this road. How could I let someone else carry my child? How would I be able to give up control?  Who could I trust?”

But before I knew it, I was connecting with agencies and talking with my husband about making a profile, you know just to check it out because we weren’t committing to anything. As if my uterus was magically going to get it together and do what it is designed to do.

During a follow up, our physician suggested we look into Canadian Surrogacy Community. I’m pretty sure I started my google search as soon as we hung up the phone. After our first conversation with Angela the choice was clear which agency we were going to work with. We liked the way she conducted herself and her business, and it helped that she’s been a surrogate before, so she knew the ins and outs of this new world!

We were also impressed that the agency keeps their IPs (intended parents) to surrogate ratio at a 5:1. It seems like this may be a meaningless detail but, when there are some agencies that have lists of over 100 IPs and start matching from the top of the list, this means the world. We had hope again, hope that this path would lead us to our little one. We were done being lost on our current path. We took the leap of faith, and once officially signed up, we began working through the questions to put together our profile for surrogates to look at. Creating our profile was like writing a resume and a dating profile. I was tempted to add the cliché – we enjoy long walks on the beach or my talent of typing 30 words per minute, but I refrained.

Now of course this was our experience and not everyone will feel the way we did. Heck, some might even enjoy the matching part. Thank heavens I never had to online date. By chance, fate, luck – whatever you want to call it, I met my husband through a friend many moons ago before online dating was popular. I would’ve sucked at online dating. I’m a shy person by nature. My husband on the other hand, is such a friendly guy that he can talk to a fly on the wall and before you know it, him and the fly would be laughing it up. He just has a way about him that makes you feel comfortable.  Thinking about striking up a conversation with a surrogate was giving me anxiety. What if you have absolutely nothing in common? What if they don’t like me? What if there are awkward silences? The fear and self doubt started creeping in.

So having said that, naturally matching was a breeze for us… Ummmm… NOPE!

We were giddy with excitement to start a new path that would hopefully get us to our goal of being a family of 3, but also very naïve to the entire process. No matter how many conversations we had or how much information we researched, we were not prepared for the rollercoaster of “matching”. We were informed within two weeks of going public with our profile that we were of interest to a surrogate. That email made our night, I remember sitting at the dinner table sobbing into my supper so happy that we were chosen. You never forget your first potential match. We started communicating with surrogates and we allowed ourselves to start thinking what would it be like if they chose us? We were so happy to have the chance at this process but couldn’t help the unsettling thought that there were other couples talking to the same surrogate and building a relationship as well. Matching feels like you are surviving in some twisted version of the Hunger Games and The Bachelor.

I will say that decision time is not only difficult for IPs but for surrogates as well. It is a part of the process that needs to be done, because building this relationship on the correct solid foundation is crucial. You never know when it is going to happen. When you get a phone call or video chat request you are happy because the chances they are going to “break up with you” via video is slim. When you hear the ding of your phone that an email or text has come through, your heart wants to stop beating until you check who it’s from. We made it down to the final 2 couples quite a few times, but we didn’t get “the rose”. This rejection was devastating. What did we do wrong? Was it something we said? The thoughts that run through your mind are unkind and damaging. It got harder and harder each time it happened. 

We talked to 5 surrogates before meeting our match. I feel like we became a little more guarded with each interaction. The wounds were still deep and tender from the pain we had already endured over the last 7 years from infertility, so the disappointment and heartache had left us feeling a little battered and bruised. Believe me, we certainly tried to rally and put our best foot forward, but sometimes that foot felt like it was made of lead. To top it all off, it’s not like you could be upset with these women to make the rejection easier. Every surrogate we talked to was such a nice person! We really enjoyed talking to them and all they wanted to do is help a couple/individual build their family. Why did they have to be such wonderful humans with the biggest hearts?

The anticipation throughout the times when we made it to the last two options, was just excruciating. Before we would go to bed each night, my husband would say to me, “Well, looks like we get to fight another day”. Books don’t prepare you for this, school doesn’t prepare you for this, infertility doesn’t prepare you for this – nothing does. Throughout the process we would keep in touch with Angela, and she would reassure us that we were on the right track. Our profile was great – it generated a lot of interest and “when it’s right, it’s right”. She had faith it would happen for us.  Many times, I thought she was full of it, blowing us off and this was just never going to happen! [insert foot stomp and tantrum here]. I am not the most patient person and clearly my anger and frustration were getting the better of me. But when you are so far into an emotionally, physically, and psychologically draining battle you sometimes feel like you are drowning and nothing anyone says can save you.  

I look back now and wish I was more open and honest about my feelings during this process. I don’t know why, but I always felt like I had to pretend that we were ok and ready for the next potential surrogate. Many times, we felt raw and exposed. This process can feel very isolating at times. After each let down, Angela would always reach out to check in and see how we were doing. She would always offer comforting words. “While I know this process can be very difficult, it leads you where you need to go”. Sometimes that reassurance was all we needed to keep pushing forward. 

After the 4th time not matching, I emailed Angela asking if there was an issue with us. I thought we must be doing something wrong. One of her suggestions was to be as open as possible and let the surrogate know what we were thinking. If you like her, let her know. Of course, after that email I bawled my eyes out. It WAS my fault we weren’t getting chosen. I was letting the pain of our past creep into our present and ruin any chance that we had of happiness by not engaging enough. I remember after reading that email, I yelled to my husband, “That’s it! The next surrogate we talk to is getting all of us. I don’t care anymore. I’m going to put it all out there. Whatever happens, happens”. Naturally inside I was freaking out because being vulnerable is a foreign concept after you create such a hard shell just to survive. 

When we saw our final surrogate profile there were a few things that jumped out right away. I loved that she had matching pajamas with her kids in her photo. It has long been a dream of mine to do that! She made mention of things happening for a reason and maybe we were down this path because she was meant to come into our lives. The tears welled up as I read that line (have you figured out I am a crier yet?). Throughout my life, my mother always said to me that “everything happens for a reason”. Maybe she was meant to come into our lives, and it made me think, could this woman actually be the one who helps us become a family? From the moment I sent the first email I can only describe the communication as easy. It was instantly like chatting with a friend. We are very complimentary to each other – I am shy and more reserved, she is more outgoing and says it like it is. This helped me to come out of my shell, gathering the courage and comfort I needed. I think it also helped that we felt like she was really engaged with us. This time was different.

A few times my husband and I would exchange glances or a smile after we read a text and as the days went on our walls slowly started to come down and we let possibility back in. With Angela’s advice still very much in our minds, we let her know that we liked her and guess what – she liked us too! We were terrified to think about something good happening. While we were doing a video call, she said I got you something for Christmas, check your text messages. We heard the dreaded ding of the text alert and nervously opened it up. SHE CHOSE US!

We laughed, we cried, we were in total shock. We were finally done with this matching hell ride! That Christmas was so special and the first happy one in a very long time, thanks to our fairy godmother who swept into our lives to make our dreams come true.

If you are reading this because you are starting a surrogacy journey as an Intended Parent and in the torture game of matching (I mean the matching phase), please remember – distance doesn’t matter, no you didn’t say the wrong thing, it’s not your fault they didn’t choose you. Rejection will sting, but keep at it and be yourself because at the end of it if you are not true to you, it will only make things take longer.  Everything happens for a reason and when it’s the right match, you will know it! I promise although these words may be difficult to read now and feel impossible, you will think back when it’s all over and it will make sense. 

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