Lisa is a four-time surrogate with IARC, and in July she will be helping her THIRD family become parents to a new little one. She is truly amazing and defines what it is to be an IARC surrogate – kind, altruistic, compassionate, and supportive to her fellow surrogates in our surro community! Just all around awesome ? THANK YOU Lisa for all you have done to help these families and for your beautiful spirit! Hear from Lisa about her surrogacy experiences in our first installment of “Inside IARC – Surro Edition” here!
Tell us briefly about your surrogacy experience.
I have been a part of the IARC surrogate family since 2009. I’m currently matched with my 3rd set of Intended Parents, pregnant with surrogate baby #4 and due in July. I delivered my first surrogate baby boy in October of 2012 and his sister in July of 2014. Later, I delivered a baby girl for a second couple in December of 2015.
What have you enjoyed most about being a surrogate?
What I have enjoyed most about being a surrogate is seeing how much joy a baby brings to people. It has been so fulfilling. I love being pregnant! Getting to continue to experience all the fun kicks and movements is my favorite part of being pregnant (ok, maybe I could go without the 1st trimester tiredness and nausea!). Being a surrogate has made me feel like I’m a part of something BIG and life changing. It has forever changed me.
What is your relationship like with your intended parents?
I’m still very close with my first IP’s. We’ve known each other for over 10 years now. Our first meeting in person was at the first transfer. They picked me up from the airport. I was so nervous and excited. We had been chatting back and forth for a several months by this time, but it was different meeting in person. We went out for supper and we were able to visit before the procedure. Even after delivering their first child we stayed in contact. They sent me pictures all the time. Later, when we started the process of the sibling journey we did a lot more video calls. By the time we got to see each other again to deliver their baby girl we were more like family. After not seeing them for over 4 years I was lucky enough to be invited to cross the ocean to visit them and meet some of their family. It was such a wonderful experience seeing them all in person again! My current IP’s have been very easy to get to know. We started texting back and forth right away and sharing pictures with each other about what’s going on in our daily lives. I keep them involved with things that are going on with their baby and OB appointments.
How were some of your surrogate pregnancies different from your own?
My pregnancies with my own 2 children haven’t been much different compared to my surrogate pregnancies. I took care of myself as I would have if it was my own. I‘ve always craved healthy foods in the first trimester and was very nauseous and tired. Even the size of all the babies I have delivered have been within 10 ounces; from 6 pounds 4 ounces to 6 pounds 14 ounces. The labors and deliveries were all a little bit different. Surrogate baby #3 didn’t want to come out so she was my first c-section.
On a personal level, when I first signed up as a surrogate I was very shy. I was nervous to talk to people and being a surrogate is very personal. It was definitely something I had to get used to. In my opinion, you go from strangers to being in a very serious, committed relationship almost overnight. You both (Intended Parents and you as a surrogate) have to have a lot of trust and understanding moving forward together. I remember the first time I was asked by my IP’s about my cycle. I could feel my face turn RED and I was thinking “can’t I just talk to the doctor about this!?!?” Being a surrogate has helped to come out of my shell and I’m so grateful. I’ve met so many amazing people over the years.
What was your experience like working with IARC throughout your journeys?
Choosing IARC as a partner in surrogacy was one of the best decisions I could have made. I’ve never felt alone in any part of the process. There is a lot that goes into carrying a baby for someone else. From start to finish you have someone from their team looking out for you. They were there while I had my first conversations with Intended Parents to help break the ice and not have awkward silent moment, during the contracts when you are given a huge stack of papers to read through to be sure you fully understand what to expect, setting up appointments and travel arrangement and court after baby is born. They are always there for you to share the excitement and joy (and sometime disappointment and fear) along the way. One of my favorite things that IARC does is that they throw Surrogate Socials! I went to my first surrogate social before I was matched with my first IP’s. It wasn’t the huge group of women that we have now, so everyone went around and introduced themselves and shared a short story. A woman shared a story about recently having a first trimester miscarriage and was clearly having a hard time. Seeing how all these women came together to help support her was amazing. Talking to these women before starting my surrogacy journey helped me later on when things didn’t go perfectly as planned. I knew I had support to turn to. I have met fellow surrogates that I couldn’t imaging my life without!
What does your family (& support system) think of you being a surrogate?
My husband and my mom have been such great supporters through all of this. I could not have been a surrogate without their help. My mom has been with me in the delivery room for each of my surrogate pregnancies. Before starting another journey, I ask my mom about her willingness to help and be involved. As our own two boys have gotten older, we include them in the decision about carrying another baby. It’s not only myself and my husband that are affected by me being pregnant or preparing to be pregnant. There are things like family vacations that have to be put on hold or worrying what their friends might think. By the time I was noticeably pregnant with surrogate baby #1 our boys were 4 and 5 years old. I was ready with a very long explanation about what was going on. I told them I was pregnant, but I was just taking care of the baby until his parents come to get him, like I do with the daycare kids. I was ready for a hundred questions but they just said “Ok!” and they were good with it. I’m still so proud of them for being as understanding as they are.