“I live in Austin, TX, with my husband and two children (ages five and two). My desire to be a surrogate started over a decade ago, watching a close friend struggle with infertility. After years and years of trying on her own, I jokingly told her I would have her baby for her if she couldn’t. Well, it took her eleven years to conceive. Never did it ever even come close to reality, but it did pique my interest. I started lightly researching surrogacy, and just placed it in a little box in my head for one day.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I were shocked. I had been taking my birth control perfectly, so it was quite a surprise. Even though I was deemed a ‘high-risk pregnancy,’ due to being overweight and having hypertension, I had a textbook-perfect full-term pregnancy. I knew I would not be able to be a surrogate because I was a size 24—an ‘unhealthy’ weight for a surrogate. I chose to have weight loss surgery when my daughter was 14 months old, and my life changed drastically.
I was able to lose 130 pounds and easily conceived my son after only four months of trying. I was lucky. I was fertile. I didn’t need IVF to get pregnant. I didn’t have gestational diabetes, ever. I had never lost a pregnancy. So many scenarios I avoided. This made me realize how lucky I was. How many women envied me. Again, I had another healthy full-term pregnancy, and my son was born. My husband and I knew we were done having children. I got my tubes tied, and he got a vasectomy.
During my second pregnancy, I had reached out to some agencies with simple questions. I joined surrogacy Facebook groups and stayed in the background. I had to ‘officially’ wait six months postpartum to be able to apply. I didn’t know if I would be approved. I had a history of hypertension, which resolved after my weight loss. I was no longer taking anxiety medication and was a healthy BMI. I was worried my weight loss surgery would disqualify me. It didn’t. None of it did; it was all in the past.
I cried the day I got the initial approval. Wow. It was real, so real. The next step was to finish breastfeeding my son. We made it to seven months, and something in my heart said it was time. I wanted the surrogacy to work out and I didn’t want anything to change it. I stopped breastfeeding that week. I waited for my period to return, then had baseline medical appointments at a local fertility clinic. In the agency interview, I told them I only wanted to choose a same-sex, married couple. Why? That’s just what my heart wanted.
There was no possible way for two men to have a biological child together. Yes, there are thousands of hetero couples who turn to surrogacy, which comes with a lot of loss and pain, and my heart reaches out to them. It was and is so important to me as a mother to raise my children in a world full of color, where they see it normal for two men to raise a child together. It is also important they see different family dynamics as being normal. I was given six profiles to start with and picked my top three.
Some couples already had a child through surrogacy; one was a single man, and something just didn’t sound relatable. Reading through the profiles, and seeing their pictures made it so real. These were actual people wanting to become a family. No one goes through surrogacy lightly. It’s a serious, expensive, and long process. A baby born through surrogacy is a baby WANTED. A baby loved and dreamed for. The parents lived in DC and had suffered an early loss with a previous surrogate.
Just because someone pursues surrogacy doesn’t mean they don’t have losses, either. Transfers fail. Miscarriages and stillbirths still happen. Sure, the risks are a lot lower for many reasons, but it still happens. One evening in the summer of 2020, I parked my car in the driveway of my mother-in-law’s house, where we were visiting after her loss, to hide from my kids. We asked each other questions, our goals and life choices, and just got to know each other some. Turns out, we all agreed we liked each other!
Time passed slowly at this point. My husband and I had psychological evaluations to make sure we were thinking clearly, which is a requirement. I was given a lawyer and we reviewed and negotiated contracts. My legal contract was over thirty pages long. It covered things such as compensation, our decisions on when we would choose or not choose an abortion, breastfeeding, insurance, and some scary topics. One thing included was the Texas law would keep me alive in the event of brain death, to keep the baby alive. In a way, I was risking my life. But, I felt as if it were the case, I also risked my life for my own children.
It took months of waiting, and then in October 2020, I flew to DC with my husband. Yes, I chose to be a surrogate in the middle of a global pandemic. The night we flew in, we met the dads for dinner. I believe the dinner lasted three hours! I was so extremely nervous. Would they like me? Would we click? I was about to meet the man whose child was about to be in my belly! Yes, only one of them could be the biological father. Both are the parents, though. Through a known egg donor, years before, they had made embryos, genetically tested them, and froze them.
I had started IVF medications a few weeks prior, and those sucked. I took an estrogen pill daily, and for the first few weeks, a shot called Lupron suppressed my ovulation. My husband and I had to make sure I wasn’t pregnant beforehand. I later stopped the injection and started a progesterone injection to make sure my uterus was nice and fluffy. The dads had picked the baby’s gender and who the biological parent would be. So, we knew Baby Andrew would be a boy from the start.
The embryo was thawed that morning, then placed into my uterus through a long catheter. So quick and easy! I was shocked! I attended the appointment alone due to COVID. Science is so amazing, and the embryo was so small, you could only see it through a microscope. I believe it was the size of a poppy seed. At this point, I was PUPO – pregnant until proven otherwise. After the transfer, I was nervous. Did it work? When would I know? Is this real?! I started taking home pregnancy tests four days post-transfer and started to get a very faint positive.
I kept taking them, seeing the line darker. It meant the transfer was successful, but confirmation would come from my first and second beta blood draw. Both of those were perfect! Next, we would wait for the heartbeat confirmation at around six weeks pregnant. It was all so surreal and so exciting. I felt so much added anxiety of stress than I had during my own pregnancies. It wasn’t just myself and my husband, it was two additional people I wanted to impress. I wanted to grow the baby perfectly for them. It was my job!
The pregnancy progressed beautifully, and my OB, who had attended my previous births, was so excited to be a part of this story. The dads weren’t allowed to attend my appointments due to COVID, but we facetimed every ultrasound. Seeing their faces watch their son grow was such a wonderful thing to watch. We would celebrate milestones from afar. They included me in their large virtual baby shower and I would send them bump pictures. I was so thankful to be carrying Andrew. I loved our time together. I would try to catch videos of him kicking and tell them what things he was making me crave.
I went on a family vacation around 25 weeks pregnant and was able to meet them for lunch. They got to feel my belly, but the little stinker wouldn’t move for them! I literally even went to the bathroom and did squats and lunges, trying to wake the little guy up! Nothing! The dads flew to Austin the week before my C-section in June 2021 to make sure they were close by. They came over for dinner one night to meet my children and won my daughter’s heart. My daughter was three and a half years old when I became pregnant, and through many talks, completely understood surrogacy.
She would feel his kicks and help me with things around the house. She saw things were hard for me, being so pregnant, and would help me however she could. She would even get onto me and not let me eat too much sugar! She truly loved the baby in my belly and was so excited to meet him. Hospital policy, along with COVID, only allowed one person to accompany me in the OR. Due to our situation tugging on the staff’s heartstrings, both dads, along with my husband were allowed in! This made the whole experience more amazing.
They were able to watch their son’s birth and were able to hold him immediately. My husband took pictures of them watching his birth and I treasure those pictures. This moment had lived in their heart for so, so many years. It had actually become a reality for them. Because of me. Baby Andrew got to meet me earth side after a few hours, as I had a C-section and needed some recovery time. He got his own hospital room with his parents, and we could visit each other as often as we wanted to.
I was expressing my colostrum as much as I could. Andrew was able to fly home with his parents when he was four days old and was greeted by his big dog sister and kitty siblings. I always get amazing pictures, and seeing him grow and thrive has been so rewarding. The whole process was absolutely beautiful and perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. We agreed from the start to remain in contact after the birth, which isn’t always the case. I was able to pump and ship my breastmilk for the first three months and got COVID vaccinated during the pregnancy, so he got those protections from me.
Baby Andrew is 7 months old now and learning to crawl! What was the hardest part of my pregnancy? At first, I would say the daily injections up until I was ten weeks pregnant. It later turned into my terrible pinched nerve I got in my hip. Lastly, it would have been just trying to parent my own children while being so pregnant. It was physically, mentally, and emotionally hard. Some people would ask how I would not be attached to the baby. To me, it’s simple. He wasn’t my child, never was, and never would be. I was simply his home for nine months. He had parents. He had a family.
Yes, I loved and still love him. I grew him in my womb. I made him! I valued the time I spent with him. Was it hard? Absolutely. Postpartum was especially hard. I cried every single day for the first three weeks. Why? When you spend 24/7 with someone for nine months, you miss them. You miss feeling them. Did I ever feel like he belonged back with me? Never. I just missed the little guy. I made a trip to DC to visit him when he was a few months old, and it was so wonderful to see how he had grown! I am beyond thankful we remain in touch, and can’t wait to visit him for his first birthday!
My husband was so amazing during my journey. He sacrificed a lot, too. Having a pregnant wife isn’t easy, and he was such a great partner during the pregnancy. Would I do it again? In. A. Heartbeat. It was a grieving process when I was done, knowing it was my last-ever pregnancy. Even though it was hard physically, I loved being pregnant. It was almost a high right after birth in the hospital. So many positive emotions filled my heart. I knew I would not be a surrogate again, and I would be retiring as I had already had three C-sections and knew my body was done.
There are so many intended parents out there, just waiting for the right surrogate. Feel free to reach out to me on my Instagram with any questions at all about surrogacy! I learned so much over the last few years. One of the most important things I learned is the heartache so many couples endure to seek out surrogacy. Surrogacy is often the last resort, and those stories are heartbreaking.
Success stories like ours really make it so special. I was not a rented womb. I didn’t do it for the money. I didn’t ‘sell’ my baby. There are ignorant misconceptions out there I hope I can turn around with my story. Adoption is also an option but can be a hard path to go down to. Some women are unable to use their own eggs or embryos, and buy donor embryos. There are so many ways to make a family, and surrogacy is just so damn beautiful.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashley Banks from Austin, TX. Follow her journey on Instagram and TikTok. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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