Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Q & A

Anonymous asked: Here's a question: any comment on the new movie "Baby Mama"? As I watched it, I was both disappointed by the writing, acting, and general premise, but was also thinking about your story. After reading your account of this journey, seems like that movie would be a real slap in the face!

Dear Anonymous, when I first saw the trailer for the movie, I was offended just watching that little bit of it. Then I told myself I needed to pull the stick out of my ass and just enjoy it for what it is: a light-hearted comedy about a subject close to my own heart. I mean, did Jeff Gordon get upset by Talladega Nights? Did Kristi Yamaguchi get offended by Blades of Glory? (Not that I’m comparing myself to celebrities, but you know what I mean.)

Then, a fellow surrogate went to see it and told me that not only was it NOT funny, but it was not even remotely accurate, and that it painted a terrible portrait of surrogates as stupid, greedy, irresponsible women. Unfortunately, I don’t think the vast majority of people actually KNOW any surrogates, so I am bothered by the possibility some people might watch that movie and think that it’s accurate in its assessment, all for the sake of a laugh. I don’t know, maybe I’m too uptight. Maybe I really DO need to pull the stick out. But until then, I won’t be watching it.

Kathy in NC asks: One question you may not want to answer....do you have to pay income taxes on the labor of your womb?

Kathy, no, it’s considered pre-birth child support and as such, is non-taxable. Just like many insurance companies are starting to make exclusions for surrogate pregnancies, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just a matter of time until the compensation becomes taxable by law.

Susan from TX asks: - once you got pregnant - how did you explain to your kids that the baby would not stay with you? Did they ever get confused? Did you ever have problems with other people in your life not understanding that the baby was not "yours"

Susan, I can tell you honestly that no, this has never been an issue for my kids. In fact, I have a great story to tell later that will show just how well this has served as a learning experience for my own children.

Enya asks: You're probably going to cover this later on, but I'll ask anyway. How is the delivery planned? If you, the IP, and the fertility clinic are in all different states, where do you have the baby? I would assume that the IP come to you, but, even then, it's not like you can predict when you're going to go into labor. Do you pick a day and induce? How often does a surrogate go into labor early and the IP miss it?

Enya, this can vary from situation to situation, but for the vast majority of surrogate pregnancies, the IP’s come to wherever the surrogate lives for delivery, and an induction date is scheduled to help everyone make plans. For a surrogate to travel to the IP’s state (assuming they live in different states) means she would have to move there for weeks, or longer, finding a new doctor and waiting for the birth. Obviously, that is pretty impractical, considering most surrogates have not only families of their own to take care of, but jobs as well.

However, when the surro and the IP’s live apart, the possibility the IP’s could miss the birth can be a real concern. The delivery is typically the pinnacle of the entire experience, and no-one wants to miss it. So, IP’s will usually come days, or even weeks, before, if it’s possible, just to ensure they are there for the big day. A friend of mine delivered recently for a couple from another country, and unexpectedly delivered a few weeks early. The parents not only missed the birth, but couldn’t even get flights into the country until two days later, which was nobody’s fault, but still unfortunate.

For me, since I have never gone into labor early, but in fact normally have to use a crowbar, a blowtorch, and some circus midgets to get the babies out, I’ve had my IP’s present for every birth, something I am VERY thankful for.

Hi! I never comment but I read your blog everyday. I was wondering do they have a cutoff age for surrogates and is the whole process any faster or easier after you've already done it once?

When I first investigated surrogacy, the cut-off age for the agency I used was 37. It has since been raised to 42, but I’ve been told that most RE’s will go higher than that for experienced surrogates who are still in excellent health. Thank goodness, since I’m pushing 42 myself and don’t feel “done” yet!

Sometimes the second process is faster; sometimes it is not. There are so many variables that it’s hard to predict, plus a lot matters on how much time has elapsed between pregnancies.

Melissa asked: Here's what I've always wondered; when I was pregnant, strangers would often ask when I was due, if it was my first, etc. Did you get these same kind of small-talk comments also, and if so did you just go along, smile, nod, and act like it was just a typical pregnancy? I guess that would be easier than explaining everything to a stranger, but I always wondered how you'd respond to comments like that.

Melissa, for me, it depends on the situation, how well I know the person, whether or not I will ever see them again, and on my mood that day. Sometimes I don’t mention it at all and just accept their comments with a smile; sometimes I’ll give a brief explanation and depending on the response I get, go more into detail if time allows. I’m proud of being a surrogate and would happily tattoo it on my forehead so everyone could know, but honestly, it’s not practical to think I can explain the situation to every single person I see for nine months, especially total strangers I only meet in passing who I will never see again. Then again, you’d be amazed how many people I have *assumed* knew I was a surrogate, only for them to ask me a few weeks after delivery, “Where’s that new baby of yours?” So maybe I SHOULD explain to everyone, ha!

Denise Tidwell asked: How many times do couples try typically? Is this normal not to work the first time? How disappointing!

Denise, sometimes it works the first try, sometimes the second, sometimes the third …. Or more. Honestly, how many times a couple is willing to try depends on their financial and emotional resources. It’s normally written into the legal contracts that after four failed attempts, both the IP’s and the surrogate are released from any further obligation to try again. (Of course, nobody can make you try a second time ... but it's good to have a written number in there to clear up everyone's expectations.) After three or four failed attempts, the doctors will often suggest a couple find a new surrogate. I’ve seen that happen, and the couple went on to get their next surrogate pregnant on the first attempt, and I’ve known surrogates who moved on to a new couple and then got pregnant immediately as well. So who knows what the magic combination is, why it works quickly for some and not for others …..

I don't know if you want to answer this, but you touched on your challenges with conceiving children... what was her fertility issue? I feel so nosy, but since you never mention her by name, I thought it was o.k. to ask why people commonly seek out surrogates. OK, I asked.

Well, one reason a woman might need a surrogate is because she could have been advised by her doctor not to become pregnant due to underlying health issues, such as heart problems, kidney problems, blood disorders, chronic miscarriages, chronic premature deliveries, etc. A pregnancy could be dangerous to her health, or the health of the unborn child. Or, perhaps she is physically unable to carry a pregnancy. Perhaps a woman has had uterine cancer and had her uterus removed, or has a malformed uterus, or, like my cousin, was born without a uterus. I think one of the more common reasons is due to emergency hysterectomies, taking place either as a result of a crisis during a previous delivery, or (in the case of my first IM) losing a child during pregnancy and having an unplanned, emergency hysterectomy. Any way you look at it, it’s a huge loss, not being able to carry your own child, and my heart goes out to these women who have to deal with the emotional aspects of their grief and challenges before moving forward. No matter how great of a solution I think surrogacy is, it definitely takes a special mom-to-be who can reach the point of being mentally and emotionally stable with not only allowing another woman to carry her child, but being excited about it.

Although I’ve heard the rumors about celebrities hiring surrogates so they can keep their figure, or career women who can’t be bothered with the inconvenience of pregnancy …. I have to believe that is VERY few and far between, if not completely unheard of. Someone is really going to go to the expense and trouble of using a surrogate because she doesn’t want stretch marks? Really? And some surrogate is going to agree to that??? Hmmm. In fact, I’ve never known any surrogate to carry for ANYONE who didn’t have a legitimate physical need. I'm not saying it NEVER happens, but in my heart of hearts, I believe that surrogacy is not a matter of convenience, but a labor of love and mutual respect.


Lisa from Texas said...

I have a question that probably sounds like a made-for-TV movie, but what would happen if the IP's divorce or God-forbid die during the pregnancy? Also, what if you found out the baby had something wrong, like Tay-Sachs, spinabifida, or some other life-threatening disorder, who makes the decision about continuing the pregnancy? What if your life were in danger if a pregnancy continued?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering the questions, very informative. I have always been interested in the logistics of surragacy and this is clearing a lot up for me, too bad I am pushing 50 lol. This sounds like something I would loved to do.


Very interesting questions and answers!

Anxiously waiting the ultrasound results! LOL

Jill B. said...

How was the knighting ceremony and the chorus concert?
Mom on the Run

amylemmon said...

Hello! I have just started exploring your website -- it was actually brought to my attention by my dearest friend who I was a traditional surrogate for a few years ago.

I had to add a little story from when I was a surrogate...

My three children and I were shopping and I was almost nine months pregnant ... we were checking out at the store and the lady behind the counter looked at me in amazement and counted my children "1, 2, 3" and pointed to my belly "four, are you crazy?" and my oldest daughter who was nine years old at the time said: "Oh it is okay, that baby is not ours." You should have seen this ladies face ... priceless!

Children understand more than adults do most of the time!

Bravo to you and I look forward to exploring your blog more.

lizinsumner said...

So, here's the standard response that I think that you should give to nosy strangers who comment/ask questions about your pregnancy: "Oh my god, I'm pregnant??" Of course, you must look genuinely shocked in order to carry this off, so you need to have some theatrical ability - but, I think it would be great!

My only question - is there an "average total cost" that the IPs spend on the "average" surrogacy (knowing full well that there's no such thing as an "average" surrogacy, I'm sure)....I know people who have spent in excess of $30,000 for a single adoption; wondering if surrogacy costs more.....

Anonymous said...

This is a very nosy question and I'll totally understand if you never answer it (I probably wouldn't) but, do surrogates still receive some sort of personal compensation for carrying a baby to term- aside from the covering of medical costs? You always hear stories about women being paid tens of thousands of dollars for doing this and I wondered if that's actually true or if it's just a tall tale. (Of course I don't mean this to be offensive- I don't mean to say women would be in this as a business for the money. I'm just genuinely curious.)

Also, I know your husband is military- I recently read an article claiming that infertile couples specifically seek out military wives now to become their potential surrogate because the military insurance covers 100% of the cost. Is this true?

Nosy, nosy, nosy aren't I?