Putting on a brave face

I get a lot of comments, both offline and online, about how positive my attitude has been throughout our surrogacy journey so far. I’ll admit, I am generally a glass-half-full person by nature. That said, just because I slap a smile on my face nearly every day doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing to do. Sometimes it feels like I’m putting on a brave face more than anything – fake it ’til you make it, I suppose.

Nearly two years into our surrogacy journey, we’ve faced many more ups and downs than I initially thought we would. During my egg retrieval I ended up with a painful case of OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome). It’s something I didn’t really talk about during or afterwards – not because I was trying gloss over it, but because I had a really difficult time processing the fact that I wasn’t able to breeze through like the IVF warriors I see online. It took me months to put to words, even with my own husband, just how traumatic the experience had actually been.

Next up was our broken match in January 2022. Sarah, who was our first match, had to back out for family reasons. No amount of reassurance from friends or family made me feel like we’d bounce back. Even though the broken match was nobody’s fault and we all remained on great terms, it was a painful taste of how so much of these journeys can be outside of everyone’s control.

After we met and matched with Ashley, things took a really positive turn – we managed to go months without any setbacks – until the worst one hit. When she got pregnant on our first transfer, followed by an early loss at five weeks (categorized as a ‘chemical pregnancy’). That loss broke my heart, and yet the world kept spinning around me and my responsibilities did not change. My dog still needed to be walked and reports at work still needed completing. Feeling broken did not absolve me of the need to move forward – and so forward I moved.

In pushing forward, we focused our attention and energy on our next planned transfer in September, only for that transfer to be cancelled. Suffice to say…this has been a long road.

Through it all, I have smiled, kept upbeat, and continued to share things publicly as much as my heart has allowed me to. So why highlight the surrogacy journey low points now? Because I think it’s worth reminding people that just because someone is handling things well on the outside doesn’t mean they don’t need your empathy or support. Social media is a highlight reel, and like many people I generally share more of my best days than my worst.

On those rough days, and there have been a number of them where I feel like I’ve been kicked over and over again, I have to make the decision on what version of myself I want to put out into the world. I like to think that by putting on a smile every day, especially when I feel weak, I’m committing a deliberate act of resistance against my infertility. There is so much I can’t control in my desire to be a mom, but what I can do is try my best to choose joy, resilience, and to show up for myself.

The things that have happened so far – both good and bad – have been outside of my control. Same goes for our next steps (which includes a transfer next week!). What I know is that the people around me deserve the best Baden I can be, and so despite the challenges that’s who I am going to try to offer each day. Infertility sucks, but I won’t let it steal my shine.

Baden

Our surrogacy contracts are signed!

An incredibly important part of any surrogacy contract are the contracts, sometimes referred to as the surrogacy agreement, signed between IPs and surrogates. This contract can look substantially different based on each journey, jurisdiction, and the personal preferences of everyone involved. What’s important to note is that much of the elements of a surrogacy agreement should be talked out between IPs and surrogates beforehand. It helps to make sure everyone is on the same page. Open communication makes for a very smooth legal process!

What does a surrogacy contract do?

In Canada, a surrogacy agreement is required in order to proceed with an embryo transfer. It outlines the responsibilities of us as intended parents as well as our surrogate and her partner. While the relationship between IPs and surrogates is much deeper than what is outlined in the contract, the contract ensures that everyone feels represented and protected from the get-go.

What kinds of things might a surrogacy contract include?

Surrogacy agreements can include a number of different elements including the IPs wishes on contact after the pregnancy, expectations about diet and exercise, delivery preferences and more. Similarly, the surrogate can include her own wishes, as the document is meant to represent the wishes of both parties.

Can’t I draft the agreement myself?

A surrogacy agreements requires a lawyer – it isn’t something you can write on the back of a napkin. Intended Parents and surrogates both must have separate legal representation. A fertility lawyer provides important added value beyond simply writing/reviewing the contract. They walk their clients through all laws and situations that can arise point by point and ensure everyone is moving forward with eyes wide open and fully aware of their obligations throughout the pregnancy and beyond.

Who needs to sign it?

Surrogacy agreements are signed by a few people; the Intended Parents, the surrogate, her partner (if there is one), witnesses, and the lawyers representing all parties.

Who pays the lawyers?

Much like other costs in surrogacy, the IPs cover the costs for both their own lawyer and the surrogate’s counsel. She is free to choose her own lawyer, however, and payment can either be arranged directly, or through your agency (if you have one).

We’re so excited to have completed this step in our journey, and honestly can’t wait for what’s next! Now that the contract our completed and sent over to our clinic, big things are ahead.

Baden and Zane

We’re medically cleared for transfer!

Tuesday morning we got a call from our surrogate Ashley with the news we’ve been waiting months for – she’s been medically cleared by our clinic! When she texted our group chat I sat and happy cried for a few minutes while I was processing it all. This is it. Medically speaking, we’re ready to go. Our first embryo transfer is now on the horizon.

I have so much optimism going into this next phase, and Ashley’s enthusiasm and excitement is helping me keep any of my anxiety at bay. There are still a number of steps between now and a transfer, plus we have to hope that her body will respond well to the medication she’s prescribed before the transfer. There’s a ton of the unknown in this process, but I’m just so overjoyed that we’re finally at that point where there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

The next step is finalizing our legal contracts, which is a big step in formalizing the journey on paper, but this milestone just feels like a huge one and I’m in the mood to celebrate.

Baden