‘When people ask me why I would ever do something like this, I have a simple answer – ‘I have a uterus, it works, I’m not using it, so why not let someone else who doesn’t have that same ability?’

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“111 Injections, 330 suppositories and 1,248 pills (and counting…) – that’s what it has taken me to get here. Here, is 16 weeks pregnant with a baby that has two adoring and excited parents who live almost 4,000 miles away. I am a surrogate, or to be more accurate, a gestational carrier for a gay couple who reside in Norway. Through messages, video calling and visits, we have become close friends, entwined in each other’s lives in a way that has profoundly affected us all.

Pregnant gestational carrier stands smiling while gay couple stand on either side of her holding her stomach
Erin Smyth

When I become a mother 8 years ago, I already knew that surrogacy was something I felt compelled toward. I can’t really explain why, it’s just something I had always thought was important. As I struggled to manage the sadness and disappointment from my own two miscarriages, it made me think even more about all of the other women, men and couples who were at the peril of their own bodies’ ability, or inability to bring them into the world of parenthood. So, when life seemed to hand me the right timing and circumstances, I followed my heart and signed up to be a surrogate.

Screenshot of woman who is a surrogate's posting so people can reach out to her
Erin Smyth

When people ask me why I would ever do something like this, I have a simple answer – ‘I have a uterus, it works, I’m not using it, so why not let someone else who doesn’t have that same ability use it?’ People tend to look at me incredulously when I say that, but when I think about it, it’s really that simple. If someone had told me I would never be able to become a parent for reasons completely out of my control, I would be devastated. Most people can understand this point, but often say they could never give up a baby like that. Every surrogate I know will smile and say the same thing to this – ‘I’m not giving the baby up, I’m giving the baby back, it was never mine to begin with.’

Ultrasound of baby in surrogate
Erin Smyth

In Canada, surrogacy is also an altruistic act, meaning that we do it without being paid. As such, a lot of people don’t understand the motivation for giving your body and life up for people who were essentially strangers before this began. I don’t think anyone can convince another person to do this, it’s hard to explain why one’s own heart has led them to this, and so I don’t fault anyone for not understanding. Usually most people have a ton of questions and it makes me happy to talk about things and have them become more aware of the entire process. By the end, people tend to have a newfound respect for the parents, the surrogates and the entire process, which to me has been a huge part of this journey.

I enjoy being pregnant, which of course helps, but my body doesn’t have the best time, so I knew going in that this would be no cakewalk. I was however, completely unprepared for the ups and downs of the following 18 months. I thought that being fairly young and healthy meant I would easily get pregnant and that IVF would not be a struggle. After 2 failed embryo transfers and IVF cycles though, I was emotionally and physically drained. As I sat there at the wedding reception of these two men who were entrusting me to help them become a family, I felt at a loss. They were loving, supportive, intelligent, excited, amazing people who deserved to have the family they so desired. Hearing them talk about what the future would hold and hearing other guests talk about them becoming parents one day made them all smile and me feel like a failure. I was supposed to be the one to bring them fertility, and yet here we were, almost a year later and nothing.

IVF needle and medication on counter for surrogate
Erin Smyth

Surrogacy is a very tight knit community and I leaned hard on the other surrogates in my program during this time. So many other women had been where I was, and they were endlessly supportive and encouraging. I could not have continued without the countless messages of hope, laughter and love. They are some of the strongest, most devoted, caring women I have ever had the privilege of meeting. There is never a topic too taboo, too dark or too personal. We share in the earliest hopes and the saddest outcomes. So, when I told them all I was contemplating round three, I knew they would have my back.

Third time’s the charm they all said – and they were right. In September of 2018 I had my third embryo transfer and six days later I just knew something was different. When I saw the second line appear on the pregnancy test that morning, I cried. Cried for all the hope, joy, sorrow and love that so many people had poured into just this one journey. I got to tell the dads on Thanksgiving weekend over messaging – I told them all the things I was thankful for and ended with ‘and I’m thankful for positive pregnancy tests.’ It was a moment I will never forget, I was sweating and crying and laughing all at the same time, in anticipation of them finding out they would finally be parents.

One negative pregnancy test beside two positive
Erin Smyth

Of course, the following weeks leading up to that ever so important 12-week mark were filled with worry and hope, as they are for all expectant parents. I wasn’t feeling well but held onto the joy I was bringing to them and had family to jokingly remind me of how hard I had tried to get to this moment, while rubbing my back after throwing up. Seeing their tiny baby on the ultrasound screen, hearing the heartbeat for the first time, these were all moments I had remembered so vividly with my own child – but it was so different this time. All I wanted to do was send the photos and videos to the dads, to hear and see their joy – for it was always theirs to have. It’s been hard for them, and for me, to be so physically far away in those moments. I try my best to make sure they don’t miss a moment and don’t feel like they aren’t a part of this pregnancy. They are always there to make sure I am okay, to make me laugh and to chat about a million things.

I tell the baby all about their dads, how much they love them, how hard we have all worked to bring them into this world, about their family and friends who now know they will be arriving and are so excited to meet them. Really, that’s all I can do – there are no names for me to come up with, no nursery to furnish, no maternity leave to plan for. It’s a different world when you are truly the only person on the inside, but also the person on the outside. I am looking forward to being lifelong friends with this couple and being a sort of special Aunt to this baby, but once it’s born my journey will end and theirs will just be beginning. It’s a path and I look forward to watching them walk together.

As I sit here rubbing my belly, I think about the tiny human being growing inside of me and all I can think about is the look that will be on the faces of the dads when they are born. The joy I have thinking about that moment, there are no words to convey the feelings in my heart. This baby will always be a part of me but will be their everything.”

Surrogate stands smiling holding picture of implanted embryo while gay couple smiles pointing at her stomach
Erin Smyth

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Erin Smyth. Submit your story here. Subscribe to our free email newsletter here.

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