My husband Troy and I tried conceiving a child way back in 2006, only a year after moving in together. We didn’t have any success, so we eventually turned to IVF and were treated for male-factor infertility. We had 16 embryos from our IVF cycle, but didn’t have a positive result until our seventh transfer. Archie was born in June 2010. Despite all the stress of trying to conceive, I took to motherhood like a duck to water and considered having another ten kids. I had so much fun in Archie’s first year, and he was an easy and chilled little baby. We were so grateful to have just one, and I thought at the time that one day, I’d like to donate my eggs to someone who needed them.
When Archie turned 2, we started trying for another baby, and within one month were pregnant. Obviously, we were a bit surprised that we had conceived naturally, given the long road we’d gone down to have Archie. I still considered that I was not able to conceive naturally, and carried the hangovers of being treated as infertile. Rafael was born in 2013 in a home waterbirth.
Soon after Raf was born, we decided that our family was complete. I’d had two relatively easy pregnancies, but parenting a newborn and a toddler was challenging and Troy and I were both pretty settled that we didn’t want any more children. I researched egg donation and eventually donated my eggs to two different couples in Melbourne. Egg donation was really rewarding, but I had a nagging feeling that I wanted to experience pregnancy and birth again. One day I had a lightbulb moment where I realised that I could experience pregnancy and birth, but not have to parent another child, if I became a surrogate.
Troy and I discussed surrogacy for a long time and we did a lot of research into all the ways it could go wrong and talked about who we might do it for and how we could make it a positive journey. Surrogacy is altruistic in Australia and surrogacy arrangements are not enforceable, so we could be risking our own financial stability and end up raising another child despite our intentions.
Troy and I started chatting with a gay couple, Mike and Nate, who also live in Melbourne, who we met through a Facebook group of intended parents and surrogates. In 2016 we offered for me to be their surrogate. We went through many months of counselling, legal advice and psychological assessments before being approved to go ahead with the surrogacy.
We eventually conceived a baby for Mike and Nate in April 2017 and I delivered a baby girl for them in January 2018. Darcey is now one month old, and we are all like family. Surrogacy, and delivering Darcey for her dads, has been one of the best things I’ve ever done and we are very lucky to have had a really positive experience.
Special moment captured by Melbourne birth photographer and doula Bree Downes.
I had lots of people asking how I was coping after Darcey’s birth, because I think there is an expectation that a surrogate will grieve the ‘loss’ of the baby. This is what I said at the time:
Altruistic surrogacy is complex, but it’s very different from what you see in the news. If it’s a headline, then it’s unlikely to reflect reality. Surrogates and intended parents form real, strong, beautiful relationships with the mutual intention of creating a baby for the intended parents. Surrogates do it precisely because we want to help create and grow someone’s family. So the idea that we are ‘giving away’ a baby is just not true – the baby is conceived and carried with the intention of them belonging to someone else.
When Darcey was born, I wanted nothing more than to see Mike and Nate with their daughter. The reward for being a surrogate is seeing them become a family. There is no sense of loss or grief for giving away or losing Darcey. I love her deeply, but I never wanted to be her mother. How am I doing, emotionally? I cried yesterday whenever someone wished me a Happy Birthday. And whenever someone says “You’re amazing!” But most especially when I see a of Mike and Nate’s emotion at seeing their daughter. I am not grieving; I am hormonal and overjoyed and satisfied and completely loved-up. This is the ‘Surrogate High’ and it is amazing.
This week I am completing the paperwork for a Substitute Parentage Order to have Darcey’s parentage transferred from myself and Troy to Mike and Nate. Once it’s approved, Darcey will receive a new Birth Certificate with her dads listed instead of Troy and I. I can’t wait for their role as parents to be formally acknowledged.
When I’m not parenting or being a surrogate, I’m a surrogacy and family lawyer and work mostly with separated mothers wanting to make parenting arrangements with their former partners.
Hood: Pascoe Vale
Motherhood in 5 words: compassion, kindness, juggling, creativity and mess.
Fav family-friendly place: NGV International
Biz: Gaffney Law
Surrogacy and Family Lawyer.
Thank you to Melbourne birth photographer and doula Bree Downes for permission to include your beautiful work in this blog post.
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