On September 15, Forward Fertility’s founder and nurse practitioner Christie Olsen met with women at Happy Bambino in Madison to talk about what it’s like to be a gestational carrier for another family. She was joined by surrogates who shared their experiences as carriers.
There were lots of questions about the process, but here are the top three:
Q: For the gestational carriers: What was it like for your children to experience your pregnancy as a gestational carrier?
A: “My kiddos completely understood it was not ‘ours.. Our youngest was in 2nd grade and had a friend whose mother was pregnant with their second child. My daughter told her friend, ‘my mom is pregnant, too, but she’s just babysitting.’”
A: “My husband and I used our experience being pregnant as a gestational carrier as a way to talk about how there are lots of different ways that families are formed. Our children have friends who are adopted or were previously in foster care. They also have friends with two moms.”
Q: For the gestational carriers: What is it like to work with a male couple versus a heterosexual couple?
A: “For heterosexual couples where the woman has had a child already herself, it is nice because she understands what it is like to be pregnant, to be uncomfortable, or to have cravings!”
A: “One mom-to-be shared that it’s hard for her to NOT be jealous of the carrier’s pregnant belly AND also feel intense gratitude at the same time.”
A: “Male couples seem to have less anxiety about ‘will it work,’ but also don’t always understand all the logistics of a speculum exam or how pregnancy works (i.e. all of the appointments or thinking that the baby will arrive on its due date).”
A: “One dad of a male couple filled his bladder as much as the gestational carrier had to for her ultrasound and also offered to drink the glucola required for the gestational diabetes screening test!”
A: “Forward Fertility offers weekly check-ins with parents-to-be to help guide them about what to expect and also to be a sounding board for any feelings of jealousy, loss, or grief that may come up for the parents as they go through the pregnancy.”
Q: For Christie: If you’ve had two pregnancies and one was uncomplicated and the other had some minor complications, does that exclude you from being a gestational carrier?
A: “Good question! I like to think of this as four different layers of ‘qualifying’ as a carrier.
- At Forward Fertility, we start with the American Society of Reproductive Guidelines, and all carriers need to qualify based on their criteria.
- Then, we look at other factors: how well the applicant communicates, their maturity, their motivation for being a carrier, and their schedule/flexibility to be able to fulfill the role of a gestational carrier.
- The next is layer is the medical professionals who will be working with you. Does your OB (obstetrics) provider and the IVF (in vitro fertilization) medical providers agree that everything in your medical and mental health backgrounds indicate you’re ready for this role?
- Finally, the parents have their own criteria when looking at the profile. Maybe something in your health history leaves them feeling unsettled (even through their IVF physician said it was not significant medically).
Given Forward Fertility’s experience in matching carriers and strong relationships with the IVF clinics we work with, Christie can usually answer the “do I qualify” question with you fairly quickly. Give a quick call today at 608-217-7511 or complete the short screening questionnaire.