Baseline testing: the results

After visiting our clinic back in February for a series of tests, we were eager to meet with our fertility doctor and hear the results. Fortunately for us everything is looking great!

Let’s start with Baden’s details:

The anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) is one way to measure ovarian reserve. It is a simple blood test that measures the potential for how many eggs could be in your basket. While this number tends to decrease with age, Baden’s actually increased, from 33 a year and a half ago to 41.9 today. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as conducting the test on different days of her cycle. This number shows a healthy reserve for her age, without a risk of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

The pelvic and transvaginal ultrasound (her visit with Wanda – as the transvaginal ultrasound is known) was also successful, with 47 follicles counted (corroborating the AMH levels). Typically, each follicle could produce one egg on retrieval day. While 47 eggs would be far too many, a high number shows that there are lots of follicles ready for stimulation! These figures give us cautious optimism about IVF. Baden often tells me “I hope I’m like a hen house – full of eggs!” on retrieval day.

Important note: The ultrasound technician noted that Baden’s IUD was firmly in place and the doctor reminded us that you can certainly keep your IUD in place during IVF. This was a great reminder as we were unsure as to whether it could stay in when she had it inserted a few years ago.

My results went swimmingly:

With my contribution making up 50% of the embryo, we needed to make sure that everything was in good working order! Fortunately it was, with my sperm DNA fragmentation (which measures the integrity of genetic material in the sperm) at 6.6% (under 20% is normal) and all positive marks for sperm shape and motility (speed). I don’t know how they counted each one, but my umm…deposit…had over 90 million sperm (27.4 million/cc), with 66% of them swimming (40-50% is normal). The doctor said that I too am in perfect working order and everything looked great.

The bad news:

The doctor reminded us that because we need a surrogate for medical reasons, proceeding with a funded IVF cycle through the Ontario Fertility Program, means we need the name of an Ontario-based surrogate that has never acted as a surrogate before beginning IVF. While we had thought this was only suggested, we now know it is required. It does narrow our search for Ms. Right quite a bit, but given our positive results, we are confident that once we find the right match, IVF will be only one small step in our journey to bring home Baby Colt.

With Canadian Infertility Awareness Week beginning on April 18, we know that our positive results may cause others to have mixed feelings. Many couples seeking fertility support due so following months or years of negative pregnancy tests, miscarriages, and less than ideal results from the same tests we’ve just passed with flying colours. There is no rhyme or reason as to why some people struggle with aspects of fertility that pose no issue to others.

We feel for the couples (and single parents) who are trying to build their family. While our situations may be different, our end goal is the same. We all want healthy children. Supporting each other throughout Canadian Infertility Awareness Week, and each and every week following, is the best way to build community and validate each other’s lived experience.

Zane

P.S. While I have been pleasantly surprised by how vibrant the fertility community is, I would be remise not to mention one area I find is lacking. Male partners often avoid (or stay silent in) online fertility groups, opting to let their female partners take the lead on making a match, researching and engaging in conversation. An Intended Father’s role doesn’t begin at the birth of his child – it begins in the fertility clinics with their own health, at home with their partners, and providing additional support to their surrogate – and to each other as well. Baden and I both monitor the @notmytummy Instagram and Facebook pages, and we are both engaging with IPs, surrogates, and supporters from around the world. Know that if there is an Intended Father that has a question about fertility, surrogacy, or our journey, I am there to answer it. When men feel empowered to be active participants in surrogacy journeys, we can be much stronger supports for the women in their lives as well.

Building a profile and telling your story

How do you show a snapshot of your entire lives in just a handful of pictures and paragraphs? These are the questions we found ourselves asking this week when we began to create our profile on our surrogacy agency’s website. This daunting task felt like building a dating profile and in many ways it is.

Why is a profile so important?

A profile, whether it is on a surrogacy agency website or in a post on an independent surrogacy Facebook group, is your chance to put yourself out there and tell your story to a potential surrogate. Unless you’re lucky enough to know someone personally who can be your surrogate, your profile is the first impression potential surrogates will have of you, your family, and the life that you live. If they’re interested, this could lead to a match!

What to include in a profile:

Photos

Our agency, 4U Surrogacy Canada, encouraged us to share a variety of pictures in our profile. We choose mainly recent photos, and even included our puppy in a few of them to give the full picture of our little family. We tried to pick photos that could add some colour to who we are. For example, we’re big Blue Jays fans and included a picture of us decked out in our jerseys.

A video

While our profile doesn’t currently include a video, we’ve been told that this can be an effective way to connect with potential surrogates.

Your story

There are a number of elements you’ll want to include in the written portion of your profile. All profiles should cover the basics like where you live, how old you are, where you met (if you’re a couple) and why you’re turning to surrogacy to build your family. Beyond that, you get to decide how much detail to share.

It was suggested that if describing yourselves is hard to do, write a brief letter about why your partner would make an amazing parent. It’s often easier to write about someone else, than to write about yourself. Another suggestion we received was to ask for testimonies from friends and family speaking about what we would be like as parents. Instead, we wrote a brief letter to our future surrogate (much like the letter we wrote on the page Dear Ms. Right) outlining the basics. We figured between the photos, letter, and this blog, our public profile speaks for itself.

The best tip we learned was that a surrogate wants to help someone she can relate to. We would suggest throwing in a few fun facts about you to help paint the picture of who you are.

Who’s your favourite musician? Billy Joel!

What is your favourite Disney movie? Parent Trap if we’re talking live action, The Lion King if animated.

What is your favourite food? I would say sushi, Zane would argue it’s burgers and fries. The Cowfish Sushi-Burger-Bar in Orlando solves all arguments!

Perhaps these things will resonate with our future surrogate. Perhaps they resonate with you? Reach out to us anytime and let us know what you would put in your profile, or if you know us well (hi Mom!), what you think we should include!

Baden

Picking an agency (or going ‘indy’): Part 2

We have exciting news to share! After months of careful research, we have decided on pursuing our surrogacy journey with the help of an agency instead of through an independent journey. (If you haven’t read the first part of this article, I would highly recommend doing so.)

This was not a decision we took lightly – these past few months have been filled with long, informative conversations with surrogates, other IPs, our lawyer, and representatives from the dozen or so surrogacy agencies operating within Canada. We quickly learned that while each agency is passionate about helping to build families, there are many philosophies on exactly what role an agency/consultancy can fill to make that happen.

Why work with an agency?

While embarking on an independent surrogacy journey initially seemed tempting from a financial perspective (why pay an agency if you don’t have to?), we ultimately felt that the support we stood to gain from partnering with experts outweighed the savings we might have.

This is our first surrogacy journey, and despite our research there is a lot we don’t know. By signing with an agency, we now have a team behind us to answer questions, support us in finding our perfect match, help us manage reimbursements with our future surrogate, and provide guidance as we move through our journey.

So…who did we choose?

After much consideration, we have signed with 4U Surrogacy Canada. This move feels right to us for many reasons – not only do their core values of transparency, positivity, and support resonate with us, but we love that 4U was founded by both a surrogate and an IP together. It is important to us to know that both our and our future surrogate’s interests will be valued equally, and that our agency’s philosophy is built on understanding the perspectives of both.

4U also offers one of the more rigorous vetting processes for both surrogates and potential IPs. By taking the time to ensure everyone entering their program is committed, healthy, and has a strong understanding of what is expected of them in a journey, they aim to minimize potential for disappointment or unmet expectations. This gives us confidence in their program, and will hopefully help our future surrogate to feel comfortable with what she can expect from us.

In terms of cost and fee structure, 4U was an excellent match for us as well. Not only do they have one of the more IP-friendly pricing structures in the industry, they are also based in Alberta (saving us having to pay Provincial Sales Tax!). Their price is also meant to support IPs in bringing home a baby – not simply facilitating support for a set number of transfers. This may at face value seem like an obvious statement, but when we questioned other agencies about what might happen to us if we had matched and then our surrogate decided not to proceed with us (or vice versa) after a failed transfer, we were informed that we might incur additional administrative fees to access surrogate profiles again. This did not sit well with us, especially given how expensive accessing the support of an agency can already be.

We spoke briefly in the previous article about expense management. This is a touchy subject for agencies and surrogates alike. We don’t see reimbursement as a taboo part of this experience – quite the opposite! We are clearly very open people, and we would never want our surrogate to be out of pocket for any expense she incurred. However, by having an agency manage the bookkeeping, it gives us the opportunity to focus on building the relationship and enjoying the pregnancy together. 4U values transparency and gives us the opportunity to ask questions and understand in detail what is being expensed, without making our surrogate feel like her spending is under a microscope.

Included in 4U’s services is psychological counselling for both surrogates and IPs. This is a requirement at our clinic, CReATe Fertility Centre, to be done in advance of embryo transfer. This is just one example of a way 4U is working ahead to simplify the process and help reduce IP costs.

We also really appreciate that 4U keeps a short roster of intended parents. By having under 20 pairs of IPs waiting for matches, we know that we are getting the personal attention we are looking for from an agency. Likewise, once we match with a surrogate, we appreciate that we will be only one of a few other matches in that stage of the process. We know that we will be able to call Lindsay and her team with any questions we have. We will not simply be clients, but part of the 4U Circle.

In all of our conversations with 4U so far, we have felt understood and respected. They seem genuinely excited to help us build a family, and exactly the type of cheerleaders we want on our team.

We look forward to the next steps in this process: building a profile and matching with a surrogate!

Baden

P.S. If you’ve ever considered surrogacy, please see 4U’s health and lifestyle requirements below:

  • between 21 and 45 years of age
  • delivered your own child, carried to full term
  • no more than 2 previous c-sections
  • healthy BMI (ideally 38 or less)
  • non-smoker
  • financially stable
  • no previous serious pregnancy or delivery complications
  • in excellent mental health
  • live in a stable, healthy home environment
  • a good support system in place
  • no history of drug or alcohol abuse

The myth of the vain Intended Mother

When Kim Kardashian came forward a few years ago stating that she would be working with a gestational surrogate to have her third child, the media exploded. It seemed like everyone had something to say about Kim’s choice, and very little of it was kind. Even the people I knew who didn’t typically follow celebrity news seemed well aware of the Kardashian-West surrogacy journey and would loudly share how shallow of a choice they felt it was.

This was disheartening to hear for two reasons: 1) I’m don’t like listening to people tear down women. 2) I knew full well I would likely be using a surrogate when the time came for Zane and I to have children, and hadn’t yet publicized that information. The saying ‘Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.’ clattered around my brain frequently.

Building a family through surrogacy is not a vanity exercise. Through my extensive research and many conversations with other IPs, I have yet to meet one person who wouldn’t have loved to carry their own child if they could have, yet somehow the myth of the vain Intended Mother persists in the surrogacy narrative. In truth, choosing surrogacy is tough and leaves women with mixed emotions, including guilt and sadness.

The key to fixing this is to share the reality. Intended Parents, surrogates, and those working in the surrogacy field have an opportunity to bring much-needed awareness to surrogacy. With every person who shares their story, the mystery and misinformation surrounding surrogacy can begin to be replaced by understanding and compassion. It seems daunting, but remember that you don’t need to start a blog to start a conversation.

Zane and I aren’t celebrities with celebrity-style reach to talk about surrogacy, and maybe that’s exactly why we can accomplish something more meaningful. People need to see surrogacy as what it is – not just something reserved for the rich and famous. I hope that together we can challenge the preconceived notions about Intended Mothers.

Baden

Picking an agency (or going ‘indy’): Part 1

Perhaps we’re biased, because we’re in the thick of it now, but finding the right match is probably the most difficult part of the surrogacy journey. While surrogacy doesn’t require a paid agency in Canada, it is often a helpful resource for IPs and surrogates alike.

We are going to break down our agency evaluation into two posts. This first post will outline the different ways to find a surrogate, and the values we are looking for when we partner with an agency. As we are still in the final stages of partnering with an agency, we will save the announcement of who we picked (and why) for a future post in the coming weeks.

Where to find a surrogate?

Our research has led us to believe that IPs can find a surrogate in one of three ways: Someone you already know, someone you don’t know but find independently, or someone you don’t know but find through an agency.

Obviously, matching with someone you know (like a sibling, cousin, or close friend) would be amazing! There is a natural bond that is already built, and negotiating reimbursements can sometimes be easier amongst family (i.e. a surrogate may require childcare while she is at an appointment, but you would be happy to watch your nieces/nephews while your sister is preoccupied, free of charge!) Even if your surrogate is someone you know, you will both have independent legal council, and can discuss the terms of your contract with your lawyer in private. While this situation is not for everyone (Baden and I are the eldest of our siblings, none of whom have had children of their own), it is an option available for those who choose to pursue it.

Alternatively, you can put together a profile and ask your friends and family to like and share it online. (While this blog is not meant to find us a surrogate, we’re still looking. Visit our Dear Ms. Right page to learn more!) If you find someone and match using either of these two options, your match is considered independent (or ‘indy’). On the one hand you save on fees paid to agencies and consultants to help guide you through the process, but on the other you lack their guidance, knowledge, referrals, and support. Either way, there is no wrong answer, as long as you find the right match in this process for you.

What is an agency?

If you haven’t found a surrogate using either of the two ways above, you can certainly partner with an agency to help you with your search. It is important to note that unlike adoption agencies, surrogacy agencies are entirely unlicensed, unregulated, and for-profit businesses. This is often why many prefer to be called consultants, as an agency implies an action as an intervenor, where a consultant is just one who provides guidance. Perhaps this is semantics, but when the Assisted Human Reproduction Act specifically states you cannot pay a surrogate, or cannot pay someone to find you a surrogate, words matter.

But Zane, if you can’t pay an agency to find you a surrogate, how do you find a surrogate (and what are you paying for?!)

I’m so glad you asked. Consider the ‘matching phase’ of your partnership with an agency somewhat like online dating. Surrogates are drawn to work with an agency because they provide support, guidance, and fellowship. IPs are drawn to agencies because surrogates are drawn to agencies. So, just like you would sign up for E-Harmony, agencies are available with surrogates who are interested in meeting IPs. Every agency structures their matching process differently, with some having surrogates review IP profiles first, while others allow the IPs to review surrogate profiles and reach out to those they would like to meet. This way, all of the matches are organic and independent. Once you have found your match, your agency is there to offer guidance and support through the medical, legal, and gestational stages of the process as well.

What to look for in an agency?

As mentioned, agencies are unlicensed and unregulated. Knowing this, we had a number of different questions we asked each agency we met with. Below are some of the points we considered most often:

Matching:

  • How many IPs are waiting for surrogates at any given time?
  • How many surrogates enter the program each month?
  • How many matched couples are you managing right now?
  • How long does it take to match?
    • This question is VERY subjective. Factors can include whether you’re local or international and what you’re looking for in your potential match. Specifics like age, location, dietary expectations, or views on termination, will impact how long it takes to find Ms. Right.

Account Management:

Agencies often set up a private bank account to manage the reimbursements between IPs and surrogates. IPs are responsible for putting money into the account and after expenses are reviewed and approved by the agencies’ bookkeeper, the surrogate’s expenses are reimbursed. This allows the agency to assume the liability that they are not paying surrogates in contravention of the AHRA. However for IPs, this often means they are handing over a sizeable chunk of money to a company that has little oversight. Some people are very comfortable with this, while others are more cautious. Please speak to your fertility lawyer if you have any questions about this process. They will know best. Here are some of the questions we asked:

  • Do you use a trust account to manage expenses?
  • How much needs to be in the account at any given time?
  • What is your expense review protocol?
  • Are we able to review individual expenses/receipts?

Miscellaneous Questions:

  • How long has your agency been in business?
  • What makes you stand out amongst your competitors in this space?
  • How much does joining your agency cost? What is the deposit structure?
  • What additional services come with the joining your agency?
  • How are IPs supported throughout the process?
  • How are surrogates supported throughout the process?
  • What steps do you take to resolve conflict (between IPs and surrogates, between IPs and the agency)?
  • What happens if our match falls through and we restart our journey with someone new?
  • How are surrogates supported post-partum?

I’ll be honest, it has been difficult to balance precisely what we’re looking for in an agency with what is available right now. There is no perfect fit. Nevertheless, we are taking support for both surrogates and IPs, respect for the law, financial prudence, and matching wait times all into consideration at the same time. We have made a detailed spreadsheet and rank each agency after we meet with them to see how they stack up to what we require. I would suggest you do the same.

We’re close to making our final decision and will write a post about why we chose them once we do.

Zane

P.S. We’re curious to hear your thoughts too. Which agency did you choose and why? How did you meet your match?

“Why don’t you just adopt?”

“Oh, you can’t carry on your own? Why don’t you just adopt?”

This is something I’ve heard a number of times. So far, I’ve answered it just about the same to everyone: that it’s important to my partner and I to try to have biological children for the same reasons it was before we realized we needed to utilize surrogacy. That’s our personal choice, and for that reason it’s what we plan on doing.

It’s a simple answer, but it rarely satisfies the question that’s really being asked. In my view, most (not all) of the people who ask the question subconsciously mean this: ‘If you’re a parent who needs a baby, why don’t you just adopt a baby who needs a parent?’

I applaud the couples and single parents who choose adoption. Adoption is a wonderful thing. However, it isn’t the right choice for everyone. Right now, at this stage of our lives, adoption isn’t a choice that Zane and I have decided to pursue – and that’s totally okay!

Talking to people about how they’re building their family is something that should always be done respectfully and gently. Even those who put on a brave face can be struggling. Though we’re very public in our journey with surrogacy, not every person is.

Be aware that when you ask Intended Parents (IPs) using surrogacy why they don’t just adopt instead, they may feel that you’re diminishing their choice and minimizing their experience.

Let’s flip the situation: If a couple confided in you that they were going to begin to try for a baby, would you ask them if they’d considered continuing birth control and adopting instead? You wouldn’t, because that would be an inappropriate and judgemental comment. The same goes for surrogacy. People have the right to choose how they would like to become parents, and it’s our job to respect their choices.

A friend of ours, who underwent IVF for secondary infertility had a particularly precocious 7-year old who asked, “Mom, was I made the regular way or the science way?”

“The regular way.” Our friend replied, not knowing precisely if she knew what the ‘regular way’ entailed.

“Oh…” said the 7-year old. She paused and then simply said, “Ew.”

Even though our baby will be made the ‘science way,’ I can guarantee you it will have the same love, care, and magic that goes into making a baby any other way. I’m sure of it.

In short, my answer to the question, “Why don’t you just adopt?” is simply, “Why don’t you?”

Baden

Baseline testing

IVF and surrogacy journeys vary greatly from person to person, but all stories share one common element: they begin with a suite of baseline tests. Zane and I got to enjoy our first round of testing recently, something we’re sharing in two parts below.

Note: these tests were ordered by our doctors based on our medical histories. Your doctor may recommend other testing.

FOR THE LADY:

  1. Pelvic and transvaginal ultrasound
  2. AMH blood test

After chugging what seemed like a gallon of water, I was led by a member of the clinic staff to the waiting room. While I’m told it is normally packed, it wasn’t overly busy – probably due to the pandemic. When my name was called, probably 10 minutes after I’d sat down, I went to room 6 where a kind ultrasound technician walked me through the two tests.

The first, a pelvic ultrasound was much like the ultrasounds you see on television. Room-temperature gel was placed on my abdomen, and the technician used an ultrasound wand to take a peek at what was happening beneath the surface. As a result of all of the water I’d just consumed, it was a little uncomfortable to have the wand pushed against my bladder. Luckily, the entire process took just a few minutes. There was a split second where I wondered how different things might feel if we were having a baby the ‘normal’ way and this was my first ultrasound. It certainly would have felt more exciting, but here we are.

Once the that test was completed, I was instructed to relieve my bladder and return to the room for a transvaginal ultrasound. This test was equally as fast as the first. I’m going to spare you the detailed description of what that was like, and instead am sharing this helpful article to describe the process.

Once I was finished in the ultrasound room, I made my way to get my blood drawn. The nurse was friendly and efficient, and even offered me a suggestion of a nearby restaurant to grab take out on my way out. In addition to performing a regular blood panel, checking my general health and wellness, and any communicable diseases, the doctor requested an additional test to measure my anti-müllerian hormone (AMH).

The results of the AMH test will provide my doctor with information about my ability to produce eggs. A higher number indicates a greater ovarian reserve (the number of eggs left). AMH numbers can be affected by a number of things, like genetics and age. While I wait for the results of this test, I’ll be crossing my fingers and hoping I’m like a hen house (full of eggs).

Baden

FOR THE GENTLEMAN:

  1. Invitae genetic testing and other bloodwork
  2. Sperm DNA Fragmentation, Semen Analysis, etc.

In addition to the regular blood panel that was required for Baden, our doctor also suggested I submit a sample of blood for genetic testing. In order to ensure that neither Baden or I are carriers for any genetic mutations, a small vial of blood (or saliva) is sent to a private lab in the US to test for over 300 genetic diseases. I should be getting my results back in a few weeks. You can learn more about this test and even order one for yourself at invitae.com.

There’s no two-ways about it, any trip to the Andrology Department is an awkward experience. You likely need to abstain for a few days before submitting a sample and once you do, it is promptly tested to ensure your swimmers are in top shape. I won’t go into details, but all the material you need is provided. Take a breath. Try to relax, and do what you do best.

Zane

P.S. Make sure to not spill a drop. I’m told the best and strongest sperm cells come out first!

Drafting the ‘team’

In our extensive research into Canadian surrogacy, Zane and I have heard over again about the importance of picking who will be on our ‘team.’ We’re going to be investing a huge amount of trust in everyone we work with. Since the stakes are incredibly high, these have to be quality picks.

So far, we’ve gathered that we need the following:

  • A lawyer who specializes in third-party reproduction
  • A fertility clinic and doctor
  • A surrogacy agency or consultant (optional)
  • A counsellor
  • The surrogate

When I say that we’ve spent hours interviewing doctors and agencies, I am not exaggerating. There are currently about a dozen surrogacy agencies in Canada, and we have spoken to every single one. Sometimes it feels like an information overload or like listening to a record on repeat. On reflection, I realize we’ve learned so much so quickly and that these conversations are invaluable to us.

The surrogacy community in Canada is not that big, so almost everyone who we’ve met knows each other. We’ve found that really helpful, because we were able to ask for second (and sometimes third) opinions on each person. Some names, like that of our lawyer, came up repeatedly as experts worth trusting. If you’ve ever been lawyer shopping and heard a dozen professionals tell you that your potential lawyer is incredible, you’ll understand just how much confidence that inspires.

As an aside, we also found it inspiring that this field is broadly female-driven. Nearly every professional we met with from our lawyer, to our doctor, to agency CEOs are women. It is very empowering to see so many women who are at the pinnacle of their careers supporting the creation of families like ours.

We met with two fertility clinics, and while the first one seemed fine I’m very glad we got a second opinion. Even though either clinic could have done the job for us, we really ‘clicked’ with Dr. Glass from CReATe Fertility Centre in Toronto. Not only did their funded-cycle waitlist match our timeline more appropriately, CReATe also has expertise in working with surrogates. Ultimately we left our (virtual) meeting with Dr. Glass feeling that she was someone we could rely on.

As of now, we’ve got 2/5 of our team members picked out. Our next step is signing with an agency. We’re close to making that decision and we’ll keep you posted.

If you’re to take one thing away from this post; get a second opinion – you won’t regret it.

Baden

How does surrogacy work in Canada?

So…what’s the deal with gestational surrogacy?

Unlike in other parts of the world, surrogacy in Canada is entirely altruistic–meaning that a surrogate can only carry a pregnancy unselfishly, and not for any sort of compensation. The laws that govern surrogacy in Canada stem from the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, 2004 or the AHRA. The law states quite clearly that any compensation of a surrogate could result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Reimbursement of our surrogate’s costs (as outlined Health Canada’s guidance document) is considered acceptable.

In addition to altruism, the federal government stipulates that a surrogate must be over 21 years old and an egg donor must be over 18. Many clinics and agencies will also have their own rules about who can be a surrogate (age, BMI, health conditions, etc.) We are looking for someone who is in their mid-to-late 30s, very healthy, has had successful pregnancies in the past, has built a wonderful family and support system, and loves being pregnant! Our preference is someone who has never been a surrogate before, and doesn’t live too far, so that we can participate in the journey as much as possible.

Unfortunately, your embryo does not magically appear in your surrogate. Surrogacy demands IVF (in-vitro fertilization) where eggs are retrieved from a woman’s ovaries and sperm is provided by a man. The egg is fertilized by the sperm outside of a woman’s uterus and then inserted into the surrogate via a small catheter. We will obviously delve into this in more detail as we go through the process ourselves but for now we will say this: IVF involves lots of medication, needles, ultrasounds, and visits to the doctor by both you and your surrogate.

Lastly, it is important to note that legal parentage is dependant on provincial laws. We’ve been advised that the best places in Canada to have a child born via surrogacy are Ontario or British Columbia. In these provinces, a birth registration is a relatively simple process. Other provinces have different processes and we recommend speaking to a lawyer before deciding on a particular surrogate.

To summarize, surrogacy in Canada is not a walk in the park. It has legal (both federal and provincial), medical, and significant financial implications. We know the journey we are in for will not be an easy one, but it is one that we are proud to share with you. We know how much a blog like this would have helped us in our journey, so we hope we can pass this knowledge on to you.

Zane

What in the womb is going on here?

Photo credit: Wilson Szeto

Welcome to our blog: Not My Tummy (But I’m Still Mummy!). I believe that sharing our story will help reduce the stigma around medical infertility and gestational surrogacy in Canada. When my partner and I began this journey, we struggled with the lack of first-hand knowledge that was available to us. We are building this blog and chronicling our journey with you to fill that knowledge gap. We hope that this will help other Canadian couples experiencing infertility and requiring gestational surrogacy in the future. I never thought my story was that compelling, but today I think that changes.

Zane and I are now beginning our journey towards building a family by working with a gestational surrogate. I’ve known concretely that I won’t be able to carry my own pregnancies for several years and we have been slowly sharing that with the people in our lives. I have epilepsy, and the medication which controls my seizures has severe risks to a growing fetus. Neurologists, fertility specialists, and pharmacists alike have warned against carrying a child. I tried switching to another medication in order to make carrying a child a possibility, and the results were disastrous.

When I made the decision to remain on my current medication, (thereby not being able to gestate) my family and friends were incredibly supportive. It didn’t absolve me of the guilt for making that decision (it’s not one that any person takes lightly), but it certainly helped. Since starting a family was a few years away, I was not too concerned about what was to come.

In the time that followed, Zane and I got engaged, bought a condo in Toronto, and settled into our careers. We planned a big, beautiful wedding, and with just months to go until the big day, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Since then, we’ve postponed our wedding three times and welcomed a beautiful puppy named Dodi into our lives.

So now what? We begin a new and exciting chapter, and we bring you along for the ride. So buckle up, because from here on out, even though it’s not my tummy, I’m still Mummy.

Baden

P.S. Be sure to follow us on Instagram! @notmytummy