A day or two later, the phone rang. I saw the agency name pop up on caller ID and my heart jumped a beat with anticipation. This was it, they were calling me back! They were probably calling with information about when I’d be getting pregnant, or who I would be carrying a baby for!! Wow, would it be a girl or a boy?!? Or maybe both?!? How exciting!!!
Um, no. Obviously, I got a little ahead of myself there.
I talked for a while with the Surrogate Mother Coordinator. She told me about their program and what being a surrogate for them would entail. I would have to undergo a pretty rigorous screening process, but if I met their initial criterion, which we could establish in this phone call, she would be happy to send me a formal application. Yes, I was definitely interested, I assured her. What were the initial criterion? I asked, crossing my fingers I would meet them.
Was I between the ages of 21 and 37? Check (the upper age limit has since been raised to 42 and is still deemed “flexible”, which I think only goes to show …. Us old chicks rock!)
Was I a non-smoker? Check
Did I have a husband, or other support person, who was in agreement that my being a surrogate was a good idea, and who would encourage and support me throughout this process? Check
Had I given birth before? Check
Was I currently, or had I previously, raised a biological child of my own? Check (The idea here is that they want women who understand both the experience of giving birth, and the experience of raising that child, and all the emotions that go with each one. For example, they wouldn’t accept an applicant who had perhaps given birth young and placed the child for adoption, and then never gotten pregnant again. They wouldn’t accept someone who had never been pregnant but was raising step children, as another example. Obviously, this is an attempt to ensure the girls wanting to be surrogates are familiar with the journey to parenthood themselves, from the very, very start to the very, very finish.)
Did I live in a surrogate-friendly state? Um, I don’t know, did I? Ohio? Check
I was not currently pregnant myself, or breastfeeding, was I? “Uh …. Well …. Yes I am. But my daughter is already nine months old and I don’t plan on breastfeeding past a year.” (When in actuality, my daughter weaned herself at eleven months because she had much, much, MUCH more interesting and important things to do, like twisting her head around to look at the tv every time I tried to nurse, or wiggling down to see what the other kids were doing, or crawling after the dog, or trying to eat plastic army men, and woman, why do you keep shoving those boobs in my face? I am done, I tell you, DONE with you and your breasts ---- pass me the real milk!!)
Then, it was time for me to ask the question that had been worrying me since the beginning: Would the fact that I was a previous infertility patient rule me out? It’s funny, because people often assume that surrogates are “fertile myrtles” who can get pregnant at the drop of a hat. The coordinator wanted to know *why* I had been a fertility patient, since obviously it had been resolved if I had two biological children. I told her the two things the doctors had found potentially wrong with me; that I was a sluggish and irregular ovulator, and that my cervical mucous was the quality of rubber cement. Well, hey, guess what? Neither of those things matter if you plan to be a gestational surrogate. In fact, as long as you have a healthy, intact uterus, your own fertility issues don’t even come into play. Who cares if you produce a bazillion high-quality eggs each month? The doctors will use meds to suppress your own ovulation when you’re trying to be a surrogate. And who cares if it takes bionic sperm to penetrate the Great Wall of Glue in your uterus? IVF bypasses that process anyway. So she assured me that no, those two issues alone would not eliminate me from applying for their program. As long as I passed all the other tests, they were insignificant. Whew!
The coordinator agreed that since I was nearing the end of my breast-feeding period, it would be ok for me to go ahead and fill out a formal application. She told me up front that how long the screening process took, from start to finish, would depend quite a bit on me and how quickly I did my part.
I assured her that I was very sincere about this, and had done my research. Now that I had made up my mind this was what I wanted to do, I was ready to move forward and would get the application returned to them post-haste. We hung up, and I sat back and waited for the application to arrive … if I must confess, getting a little tingly with excitement.