Originally published 17/07/2018
This is one of the most challenging posts I have ever had to write. At the same time, I really wanted to share with you my experience and the joy and emotion all around it.
Right now, I am 13 weeks pregnant. This is emphatically not my baby. I am what is known as a host surrogate, whereby the sperm and egg of two other people are used to form an embryo which was ‘transferred’ inside me in an IVF procedure at a clinic, making me the gestational carrier.
I was extremely lucky – the procedure worked first time, and with no need for hormone injections prior to treatment, which my wife is truly thankful for!
The couple I am carrying for are obviously delighted, awaiting the birth of their very first child with great excitement and trepidation. I am more relaxed, having already gone down this road before, 6 years ago with my wife and I’s youngest child.
The couple are a gay male couple, of similar age to my wife and I, and with similar personalities to us. I have wanted to be a surrogate for a gay male couple for a long time – indeed, our children wouldn’t exist without their darling dad, another gay man who plays an active role in their lives. It was this streak of generosity from the most wonderful man I know that pre-empted me to try to bring the same joy to another couple.
I went through an agency, (which I would recommend doing for all surrogates) who guided my family through the whole process, the legal, medical, emotional and ethical stop signs along the way. Friends provided me with character statements, my medical reports from the last 15 years were scrutinised and I have had more blood tests than I thought possible. The agency, Brilliant Beginnings, also found our intended parents, and matched us on a range of qualities, from lifestyle, child rearing and personalities.
This whole process, from start to conception, has taken both my family and the parents two and a half years, a laborious but absolutely necessary process, with many counselling sessions, forms and meetings.
One thing that could not be predicted was how everyone would feel once I got pregnant. Would I or my wife become attached to the baby growing inside me? Would my children start to want a new sibling? Would the parents find it hard to bond (we are at opposite ends of the country)?
I can honestly say I have, and continue to have, the absolute certainty that this is someone else’s baby. I do not feel attached, although I do feel excited and happy. This pregnancy however, is very much mine (including the brand new wardrobe!). My bump is mine, it’s just what’s underneath that isn’t.
My children are curious, interested, but a little detached. I am at great pains to remind them that they are my only children, and that I love them more than ever (this is true, pregnancy has made me soppy), and they don’t show any signs of craving a new baby brother or sister.
My wife has been wonderful, supportive and caring. She has had trepidation about becoming too attached, and has had to keep her distance at times, with appointments and scans, but she has never stopped caring for the health and wellbeing of both myself and the baby growing inside me. Without her support, this would not have been possible.
The parents do find it hard being so far away, but we Skype and call, and I have a few tricks up my sleeve to ensure that their baby will feel bonded with them at birth.
Having said all this, as I feel quite emotionless about the baby inside me, I wonder if people will judge me for being cold or uncaring. I worry about being judged negatively, for my somewhat blasé attitude, and for being unemotional when faced with crying babies in shops, and having no real feelings for the unborn child I am carrying.
All I can say is that it is my practical personality, and that I bond with babies after birth. This is the reason that I intend to have the parents cut the cord and experience all of the cuddles, as I can never forget who this baby belongs to. I may be doing the carrying, but after the baby is born, they will be in their rightful place – their loving parents’ arms.