Grown with Love with Heartland Surrogacy
Hi, I’m Beth! I’m an Iowa mom of two and happily married. My family and I have been lucky enough to help build two other families through surrogacy. Being a gestational surrogate was incredible and changed my life. This is the story of my second journey when I matched with a local intended parent.
Why I Became A Surrogate
When I first pursued surrogacy, I had a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old at home. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without them. I’d seen friends and family struggle with infertility through the years. While none of them ended up pursuing surrogacy to build their families, I knew there were families out there who needed women willing to help on their path to parenthood. I had been lucky to have healthy, and relatively easy, pregnancies and deliveries and I knew this was something I wanted to do.
Finding the Right Match
This was my second surrogacy journey and I had some very specific goals for my match. I knew I wanted to match with someone who would understand and appreciate my entire family’s commitment to the surrogacy journey.
I had a great feeling after first reading Nick’s profile. I could tell he understood the process, the commitment I would be making, and that he wanted to be fully involved in the journey. It was such a bonus that he lived only about 45 minutes away! Because of that, Heartland Surrogacy was able to coordinate an informal, in-person match meeting for us.
Originally, the plan was for my husband and me to meet with Nick and Brie (president at the agency). But our sitter fell through and our kids ended up joining us. Nick was very accommodating. The interest and respect he showed my kids only confirmed my feelings that we would be a good match!
Brie went over with us the major details of a surrogacy match: communication preferences, views on termination, contact after the delivery, etc. We seemed to be on the same page with everything. We got distracted plenty of times talking about a lot of non-surrogacy-related topics, but that only made us more comfortable with each other! We could quickly see that Nick was a loving and caring person with a passion for children. I left the match meeting excited for him to start his family!
After talking things over with my husband, we decided we wanted to move forward with the match. We were happy to hear that Nick felt the same!
My Medical Evaluation
Since I had been through the surrogacy process before, I expected to walk out of my medical evaluation with the go-ahead to move forward. I was surprised and disappointed to find out that we’d need to do additional tests. They wanted me to return for a hysterogram, which is a special ultrasound using a lighted tube, done under general anesthesia.
I worried that I might be wasting Nick’s time and money. At the end of the day, this entire journey was about helping him build his family. I felt like I might be letting him down. The hour-long drive home felt like it took forever while I dealt with these feelings. I exchanged texts with Nick and Heartland Surrogacy during the ride and discussed what the next steps would be.
Since I was under anesthesia for the actual procedure, the hysterogram really wasn’t a big deal. Honestly, I was still coming out of the anesthesia when I found out I was cleared! My husband handed me my phone and I saw I had a celebratory text from Nick. It was his Bitmoji saying “Woot!” In my groggy state, I couldn’t figure out what it meant! Then a nurse told me that everything looked great and that someone from the clinic would be in touch about the next steps.
When I realized I was cleared to move forward, I was super relieved and happy to be able to continue this journey with Nick. The drive home didn’t seem to take nearly as long after this trip!
The Embryo Transfer
Given the bumps we hit during the medical screening, I was relieved when the transfer day finally came. My husband and I drove to Chicago the day before so we wouldn’t be stressed out about timing. We arrived at the clinic a few minutes early and I remember trying to distract myself from my full bladder.
Nick soon arrived with cupcakes in tow, and our favorite coordinator joined us in the waiting room. My husband, Nick, and I had fancy transfer outfits, including matching pineapple socks for luck!
I had been through embryo transfers before, so I thought I knew exactly what to expect. But since we were at a different clinic, things were a little different. The chair they had me sitting in felt a bit like a carnival ride and I ended up almost upside down for the transfer.
The transfer itself was over in just a few minutes, but I remember trying to take it all in. I mean, this was (hopefully!) the start of someone’s family! We were each given a picture of the embryo cozied up in my “beautiful trilaminar lining” with a heart around it for luck.
With my own kids at home, I had plenty to keep me busy while I waited for the first blood test, but I still can’t say the time went by quickly!
Am I pregnant?!
During my first surrogacy journey, I experienced a couple of failed transfers. For both transfers, I took home pregnancy tests starting 5 days after transfer. I stared at these little plastic tests and analyzed lines and their color. Honestly, this just totally stressed me out and made the wait until Beta Day seem that much longer.
This time around, I didn’t want to stress myself or Nick out by spending days overanalyzing. I knew that I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing. And I knew that Nick had healthy, PGS-tested embryos. During the 10-day wait, I think there were times when we both wanted me to cheat and take a home test, but I waited until the day before our beta. I decided to take a digital test, so there was no interpretation involved. I was happy and relieved to see the word “Pregnant” appear on the test!
We were hoping to hear a number over 100 from the official hCG beta blood test. My results were 110, and three days later, my levels were 578. I used an online doubling calculator to figure out that my levels were doubling every 30 hours, which was a great result.
The first ultrasound was at 5 weeks, 4 days. I knew that was too early to see the heartbeat, but I was looking forward to checking in on the little guy’s growth. Since Nick and I live fairly close together, he was able to join me for all of the ultrasounds. That was a great way to keep him involved. During my first journey, I updated my IPs with pictures and videos after appointment, but it was nice to have Nick there sharing in the excitement!
I admit that I was just a little nervous the following week. This was the appointment where we were expecting to see a heartbeat on the ultrasound. I had been feeling adequately nauseated and tired, so I was fairly certain things were going well. But with IVF, it’s hard to know which side effects could be caused by the pregnancy and which are a result of the hormone medication.
And then we saw, and heard, his heartbeat for the first time!
We saw him growing as expected on the third ultrasound the next week. I thought we’d be waiting about a month for an appointment with my OB, but then I found out we’d be doing one last ultrasound at 9 weeks. Even though I had been through a surrogacy journey before, the amount of early monitoring still caught me off guard a little. And at times it made me nervous.
My kids were conceived without medical assistance. I think the medical care I received is pretty much the norm for that type of pregnancy. I didn’t have my first appointment until 12 weeks and only had one ultrasound (at 20 weeks). And here we were about to have our fourth ultrasound after several blood work appointments! I just had to remind myself that surrogacy journeys are much different and more monitoring is just part of the process.
Baby boy grew a lot in the week-and-a-half between the third and fourth ultrasound. I think that relieved a lot of anxiety for both Nick and me. We had officially graduated from the fertility clinic and I had just a few weeks left on medications. Things were going great and I felt so excited to be on this journey!
The 20-week anatomy scan was an exciting milestone in my own pregnancies and it was one of my favorite experiences with my surrogacy journeys. With this little guy, I knew how much he had grown and changed since we had seen him last at 9 weeks. I was happy that Nick was able to join me so that he’d be able to enjoy the entire experience.
However, the anatomy scan is also a good opportunity to check for fetal abnormalities. I knew that Nick was a little bit nervous about the small chance that something would be wrong. I did my best to reassure him that with the genetic testing he’d had done, the chances of finding a problem were pretty slim. I also recommended that he stop Googling!
Even so, I think he and I breathed a collective sigh of relief when those first images popped up on the screen. We could see the baby moving around and the heart beating away. As the ultrasound went on, we had further confirmation that everything was looking good and healthy. We got to see him sucking his thumb and were able to confidently confirm that he was, indeed, a boy!
After the appointment, we walked over to the hospital together. We visited the maternity floor and a nurse showed us a couple of rooms. If all went well, Nick and the baby would get their own room after the birth.
Then the two of us sat down at the hospital coffee shop and discussed our ideal birth plan. It was a good chance to talk about things in person and get it all down on paper. We also got started on figuring out what we still needed to figure out!
Although a lot of his friends and family already knew, Nick made the official pregnancy announcement on Facebook after the appointment. I made it “Facebook-official” as well, which was good timing because there was no hiding my baby bump under baggy clothes anymore! Getting to share with the world, and hearing congratulations from everyone, was a great end to an already exciting day.
Now we just had to wait another 20 weeks or so …
My previous deliveries were fast, so we decided to schedule an induction for 39 weeks to avoid any major surprises. About 4 hours after the doctor had broken my water, I was only about 5 cm dilated. I decided I wanted to get an epidural and then have Nick join my husband and me in the room for the rest of my labor.
Our nurse went off the find the anesthesiologist, only to come rushing back in when she heard my yells from down the hall. The baby was coming whether we were ready or not! He was delivered by the nurse as my husband watched the doctor running across the street from the clinic!
The moment he was out and I could put two words together again, I looked at my husband and said, “You need to call Nick!” The doctor came in while we were waiting for Nick and we all agreed to wait a few minutes to cut the cord. Thankfully, Nick arrived quickly from his room down the hall and was able to cut the cord and finally take his baby in his arms.
It was such a joy to see Nick snuggling with his son!
While in the hospital, my focus was on feeding the baby and pumping. I of course did this while bingeing some of my favorite shows on Netflix! When it was time to be discharged, we all walked out of the hospital together. Watching Nick load his son into the car seat for the first time totally took me back to those uncertain, but exciting, first moments with my own babies.
At the same time, I was more than happy that the “extreme babysitting” job was over. Baby Boy was ready to go home with his daddy!
A Lifelong Bond
I agreed to pump breastmilk for Baby Boy. I had pumped after my first journey as well and donated the breastmilk to local parents, as well as a milk bank for preemie babies, so I had some experience, but wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when pumping for one specific baby as his only source of food! We met up regularly for 7 months to stock their freezers with breastmilk. In all, I pumped over 13,000 ounces. Although it was a lot of work, it was a great excuse to see each other and for my family to get some baby snuggles!
My family and I have kept in touch with Nick. We are happy to receive texts, photos, and videos as Nick and his son settle into life together. We plan to continue to stay in touch in some way or another. I think we all agree that we’ve formed a lifelong bond!
Why I Chose Heartland Surrogacy
After working with a large agency for my first journey, I decided that I wanted a different experience. After talking to other surrogates and doing a lot of research, I contacted Heartland Surrogacy. I liked that they are local and that they intentionally stay small so they can personalize services to every client. I also appreciate that they are more affordable than larger agencies. Intended parents already pay so much for surrogacy; it was good to see an agency with lower fees.
After getting to know the staff at Heartland Surrogacy, I knew that they were the right fit for me! They got to know me as a person and were very responsive during the entire application and screening process. I knew that they would find the right match for me and not just the first available match. I’m so glad I had them by my side for this journey!
Are you interested in becoming a surrogate? Learn more about working with Heartland Surrogacy. Be supported throughout your entire journey by a team with personal surrogacy experience!