If your IVF treatments have not been successful and you are not ready for adoption, having a baby through a surrogate might be an option worth considering. Surrogacy has helped realise dreams for many intended parents. Regulations concerning surrogates vary per country. Surrogacy in the Ukraine is legal, in Canada and the US it is widely accepted, whereas commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK and any type of surrogacy is not allowed in France, Germany, Italy or Spain.
If you are considering using a surrogate’s help in order to have a baby, you definitely have a lot of questions. You would like to know what the process looks like, who the surrogate is, why she does it, what her motivation is. It is completely natural that you want to know as much as you can about your surrogate. EggDonationFriends are here to help – we have talked to Rikki Lenahan, a surrogate from Canada.
Meet Rikki – she is a mother, birth/postpartum doula and a Social Media Liaison for Canadian Surrogacy Community. We have asked Rikki a couple of questions about her experiences as a surrogate.
EggDonationFriends: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where do you live? (country) What are your hobbies, interests?
I am a mom to 2 beautiful girls aged 3 and 5 and an angel son (2008-2009). I was born and still live in Ontario, Canada. I am a big advocate in the surrogacy community and try to bring awareness any chance I get. I love beauty and health and wellness and helping people in these areas as well. I enjoy photography and building social media presence.
When did you decide to become a surrogate? What triggered your decision?
I fully decided to go ahead and obtain information on surrogacy in 2015 about a year after my youngest daughter was born but surrogacy had been on my mind for years before that. I waited until my personal family was complete before really starting the process. I have witnessed family friends struggle with fertility since I was young and I have seen the effects it can have on families. I knew for years that I wanted to help. I have always been the kind of person who is drawn to helping people and I am a giver by nature so it was only natural for me to be pulled in the surrogacy direction,
What was the reaction of your friends & family to the news?
Most of my family was very supportive and very intrigued by my decision to do this. Some asked questions and some were concerned with what this might do with my health etc., but mostly I have received nothing but an outpouring of support and love from friends and family and even strangers who hear my stories.
Did you get support from your doctor/nurse/fertility coach/friends/family?
I am currently on my second surrogacy journey and with a wonderful agency called Canadian Surrogacy Community that has so much support, guidance and I have met some great friends through here. Doctors and nurses from both of my journeys have been amazing and very supportive.
Where did you get information about the surrogacy process?
When I first got into surrogacy, I had done a Google search and messaged the first place to come up. This was the first agency I was with for my first journey. I have since, of course, had my own full experience and also have done a lot of research on my own and met some other amazing resources along the way as well. I love following journeys on Instagram and Facebook etc. and gaining perspective from all different experiences.
Were you compensated for being a surrogate?
No, here in Canada it is still illegal to pay a surrogate to carry a baby for you. I am, however, compensated for pregnancy related expenses such as doctor’s appointments, childcare for said appointments, clothing, etc.
What did the screening process look like? Did you have psychological test done?
The screening process was pretty quick and easy. I travelled to a well-known fertility clinic where they performed blood work and ultrasounds to check my body over and make sure I was a good candidate for this process. It was only a few hours there and we were cleared about a couple of weeks later. I did have a psychological screening done as well where they asked me questions about the process and things to make sure I was mentally prepared for all that I was about to undergo. I think medical and psychological screening is a very important part of the process to make sure someone is in the right state for something like this.
What was your pregnancy like? Did you have to take any medication? How did you feel?
My first journey pregnancy was pretty easy. It was a twin pregnancy so I did suffer a lot of morning sickness as well as a very bad case of heart burn halfway through until the end. With it being twins it was definitely a harder pregnancy all around but it went pretty smoothly! I was on progesterone injections, oestrogen and 81mg of ASA for the first 13 weeks of the first journey and am currently doing the same for the second. This second journey has been great as well. I am suffering quite a bit of all-day nausea and exhaustion but we are hoping the relief will come once entering the second trimester.
For both journeys mentally I feel and felt amazing through the pregnancy. The whole time I focus on growing these little babies for their parents and the day I get to hand them back is what makes it all so worth it.
Have you met the intended parents?
Yes, I saw my first set of intended parents every 2 weeks of the pregnancy during my first journey and we still keep in touch to this day. They are Canadian. My second set of IPs who I am currently carrying for are international, they come from Australia, so I will not see them as much but I have met them once so far with future plans already in the works.
What kind of relationship, if any, would you like to have with the intended parents and the child?
For my first journey we chat once a week, now sometimes a little longer between if we are all very busy. They consider me part of the family and I love getting updates from them. I consider them family/friends and love having them as a part of my life. I hope to have a similar relationship after with this second journey family as well but I am open to whatever they are comfortable with.
Do you think surrogacy has changed you as a person? If yes, in what way?
I definitely think surrogacy has chanced me as a person. I am far more compassionate to people’s feelings and what they go through not only with infertility but also everyday life. Everyone you meet could be going through something you know nothing about so that is really eye opening. I think through surrogacy I realized that I am a lot stronger person than I had known before and I think it really helped me see that I can make a difference.
How did you feel after the surrogacy process was completed?
I felt so much pride and so happy that I was able to help a family complete. I never really anticipated just how far what I did would impact other people. After the birth I had an outpouring of letters from their family members and friends just thanking me so much for changing all their lives. I have always felt like surrogacy was something I was called to do, like it was/is my purpose. Being able to do this not only once but now twice is a really humbling experience. My kids are at the age now that they understand what we are doing as well and it’s really a great feeling knowing that I am setting an example for them, that if you have the ability to help someone in need that you should always follow that calling.
Are you planning on being a surrogate again in the future?
I have completed one journey already (gave birth to boy/girl twins in December 2016) and I am currently 11 weeks pregnant on my second journey. As for if I would do it again after this time only the future will tell.
Is there anything you would like to say to women who are considering becoming a surrogate?
I would say really think about it and get as much information as you possibly can. Go through an interview with a few agencies/clinics and make sure they have your best interest at heart and that they have a very supportive community. Surrogacy can be the best thing you do and it is so rewarding. Seeing a family complete right before your eyes is an experience almost too amazing to put into words.
Is there anything you would like to say to intended parents considering surrogacy?
This is really something that can change your life in the most beautiful way. Talk to a lot of different surrogates and make sure you have a strong connection and a relationship on both sides that you are comfortable with. Be as open and honest with each other as possible and journey will go smoothly. Make sure you are all on the same page about everything right from the get-go.
Follow EggDonationFriends on Instagram for more infertility stories and support and follow Rikki’s amazing surrogate journey on her Instagram profile.