Pregnancy Diaries: 'I agreed to be a surrogate even though I never want kids'
Ever wonder if other women experience pregnancy the same way you do? Now is your chance to find out.
Our new series, Pregnancy Diaries, is all about sharing real women's true pregnancy stories ¨C the highs, the lows, the hilarious and the shocking from conception all the way to birth.
In this diary entry, Lunaria Gaia reveals why she chose to be a surrogate for a dear friend despite not wanting kids of her own.
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"I was a surrogate for a dear friend of mine, Joel, even though I don't have my own kids, nor do I want them.?But when Joel met his now-husband, I knew that their dreams for a baby could happen through me.
I wouldn't exactly call the decision to be a surrogate a no-brainer, but it wasn't a difficult choice either. Joel and I were fast friends from the time we met in Year 8 and by the time I was 15 I had this idea that I would have his baby one day.?
Fast-forward 20 years of maintaining a long-distance friendship and I was having gynaecological issues, with my doctor recommending a hysterectomy at age 34. On my next visit to see Joel and his now-husband Dan in Sydney, I told them that if they wanted to make use of my uterus while I still had it, then we should get moving!
It actually gave Joel the impetus to propose to Dan just a couple of months later and get their ducks in a row so they could be married before making a baby. I felt a strange deep desire to have Joel's baby for two decades, even thinking to myself that if I ever fell accidentally pregnant then I would want Joel to adopt. I wouldn't have had Joel's baby with any of his previous partners - it seems as though I was waiting for Dan to have his bubba as well.
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From that funny conversation about jumping on my 'ute' before I got rid of it, the ball started rolling. There were A LOT of processes and procedures to adhere to, a lot more than any of us had initially expected.?
We all had to have several hours of specific counselling, both one on one and together. Contracts needed to be written and legal issues discussed before any type of egg freezing or transfers could happen. It took us over 12 months to get approval from the board of ethics to say that we could go ahead.
I had a large fibroid growing on the left side of my uterus that doctors wanted to remove before I tried to carry a child, as it was bigger than my uterus. That procedure took two days in hospital and about six weeks of recovery.
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Due to the size and complexity of the removal, we were advised to wait a full six months before attempting a transfer. In the meantime, embryos were made using Joel's sperm and Dan's sister's eggs.
In 2019, nearly two years after our initial discussion, my 10-year relationship ended and I moved from Melbourne to regional NSW, where the bushfires created huge turmoil just a few months later. While attempting to get my uterus ready for transfer, a blocked tube was discovered and yet again I was down to have surgery.
At the start of 2020, I had my tube removed and in July that year, despite COVID-19, we had our first transfer that later became baby Archer.
It felt like I was hungover all day, every day for the first three months of pregnancy. I never vomited but found eating anything but chips and drinking soda water a challenge.
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As a type 1 diabetic, the challenges were around monitoring and controlling my sugars. Although I was sick for those three months, it was comforting to know I was still pregnant while I had the symptoms.?
Around the 13-week mark, I settled into a relatively easy pregnancy. The last trimester was a delight physically, thought challenging in other ways. Living in Batemans Bay, in regional NSW and being a type 1 diabetic with a "high risk" pregnancy, I was travelling every month up to Sydney to visit our specialist team at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
From the last trimester I needed fortnightly, then weekly appointments so the commute was taxing.
I was very well looked after by what I call my 'two husbands', as we all lived together for the pregnancy. For the boys to be able to experience my growing belly, feel the kicks and movements, and be my support whenever I was worried that something might be wrong was very special for all of us. We were always close, but the pregnancy and especially those few months together were magical.
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Despite wanting to give birth naturally, having a planned caesarean in March 2021 was a no-brainer. When the fibroid on my uterus was removed before the pregnancy, they breached the cavity of the uterus. We were told that if I went into labour, my uterus could rupture and both me and the baby would likely be seriously ill or could die.?
Baby Archer's birth was beautiful. It was very much COVID-19 times (March 2021) so we were extremely lucky to be able to have both dads in the room. We had our own music playing and we were together every step of the way, like we had been for years.?
Being a surrogate for Joel and Dan changed my view of the incredible power of the female body, that's for sure. I loved the experience of pregnancy and bringing Archer into this world but two years on, I still don't want kids of my own.
Joel, Dan, Archer and I don't see each other anywhere near as much as we all would like, but with me running a successful coaching and speaking business and them living in Sydney chasing after a toddler, our worlds don't match up all that often.
It's been nearly five months since I've seen Archer face to face, but that's unusual for us and I talk to them all regularly on the phone and via video.
I am excited to get back up to Sydney next month for Joel's birthday and a weekend together. Archie will always be my special little guy and watching him grow is one of my greatest joys in life - without the responsibilities!"