Episode 22 – Lauryn – straight mum
Lauryn and David, first from Melbourne and now in Sydney, are parents through surrogacy – TWICE! Their surrogate Sarah, from Canberra, was previously a stranger and now a life long friend. Sarah carried and birthed their daughters, Everlie, in April 2019 and Piper in November 2022.
This episode was recorded in April 2023.
These podcasts were recorded as part of the free webinar series run by Surrogacy Australia. If you would like to attend one, head to this page for dates and registration links. The recording can also be found on our YouTube channel so you can see the photos that are described. Find more podcast episodes here.
The webinars are hosted by Anna McKie who is a gestational surrogate, high school Math teacher and surrogacy educator working with Surrogacy Australia and running SASS (Surrogacy Australia’s Support Service).
Are you an Intended Parent (IP) who is looking to find a surrogate, or a surrogate looking for Intended Parents? Join SASS.
Welcome back, or if this is your first time, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to Surrogacy Australia’s podcast series with me, your host Anna McKie. My guest on this episode was a co-host on the regular webinar series that I run. Those one hour webinars are free and will take you through the surrogacy process in Australia. You will hear from a surrogate or parent and there are opportunities to type in your questions and we will try to answer them.
You can find upcoming dates on our website at surrogacyaustralia.org. This episode, recorded in April 2023, features Lauryn. Lauryn and David are parents through surrogacy twice. Their surrogate Sarah from Canberra was previously a stranger and now a lifelong friend. Sarah carried and birthed their daughters Everlie in April 2019 and Piper in November 2022. Lauryn needed surrogacy as she was born without a uterus, also known as MRKH syndrome.
For their first journey, Lauryn and David lived in Victoria, and for the sibling, they were in New South Wales, so they have a range of experience navigating surrogacy in two states. Their team became known for creating some hilarious parody videos during their journeys. I’ll put a link in the show notes, or in YouTube you can search for surrogacy parody and you’ll find them there. Some of the key learnings in this episode include having a shared Google Doc with all of the discussion questions.
so the IPs and surrogate can answer them separately and then come together as a team to discuss. Make sure you have done your grieving, share the load and play to everyone’s strengths and for the intended parents reassurance that you will bond with your baby if they’re a donor egg or not. I hope you enjoy this episode. So Lauryn’s here tonight with us and we’re gonna work our way through the lovely photos that she shared with us. Now, obviously these are not.
in order of a journey, there’s quite a lot has gone on. Yes. So we’ll go from these photos onwards and then we’ll go back to the beginning at the end. So, Lauryn, this is pregnancy one. Tell us who’s in this photo and what was happening here. OK, so this is our baby shower for Everlie, our first daughter. And so you’ve got next to my sister Sarah and I in the middle.
My husband David is next to Sarah and her husband Justin is next to me. Sarah’s about six months pregnant here. We went with an Australian theme for Everlie because she was due on Anzac Day and so we had her baby shower on Australia Day and we didn’t know if she was a girl or a boy so we called her baby Anzac through the entire pregnancy. This was, while it was a baby shower, this was family barbecue really, family and close friends. Quite a few people there.
And it was our opportunity to share this, the pregnancy with our close friends and family, and for a lot of people to meet Sarah. Family had met her by this stage, like met her pre-transfer, and we had done all of that. This was a chance to make this real for the people that were important in our life. So we were really lucky that we could have, like just blessed to have that barbecue and.
and share that with everybody. Perfect. And I think it might be brand new, you know, hearing that, you know, it is shared with family and friends. That is the point that we all get to. So yes, they become a part of your extended family. And you need that support from everybody. As anyone knows, just when you have a baby, you need that support. And then we added an extra layer of having a baby with four people. It was lovely to share that with everyone. That was a…
really special day for us. Beautiful, you all look very happy. And then this next photo is probably a bit backwards in time but that’s okay so this is um… Taking me back as I said we’ve done a lot okay I’m I’m pretty sure this would be 20 weeks scan. Yeah. Yeah we didn’t miss any scans.
from memory. I don’t think of Everlie’s. David may have had to have missed work. It was obvious we were travelling back and forth. Sarah and Justin live in Canberra and at this point for when Everlie was born we lived in Melbourne. Lots and lots of travelling back and forth. We were very lucky that Sarah was very open with allowing us to be at all of the appointments. Often just as a little sideway thing, most of the time they will take the surrogate in
they did things, like did a few of the tests and things, or set everything up. Bit of privacy for her as well, so we’re not standing there like she’s getting changed. And then we would come in. So once we knew that that was the process, it worked for us every time. So we knew that she and Justin would go first, and then David and I would follow in after they’d done some initial things. And that’s really valuable for people at the very beginning to see what this could look like. Absolutely, because the first, I’ll never forget the very first scan of Everlie, so around that.
I think it was like seven or 12 weeks. I can’t remember if it was seven or 12 weeks. They were in there for about 20 minutes before we came in. And so we, our hearts were just pounding thinking. There’s no heartbeat. Wrong, there’s no heartbeat. It hasn’t, you know, something’s happened. And we’d actually had a, again, we can circle back, but we’d had a miscarriage with our first transfer. So, you know, a lot of anxieties were coming up. I don’t know.
It was just that radiographer did everything first. They did every single thing. And Tess did all the measurements, everything. And Sarah’s going, oh my God, oh my God, they’re gonna wanna get in here. They’re gonna start to panic. So once we came in, thankfully when Justin came out to get us, the look on his face said, everything’s fine. And we’re like, here we go. Takes you back to all the- Yeah, it does. And then we sort of a bit of a fast forward, some of the really powerful birth images here.
Yes. You remember these moments? Oh, yep. It was, gosh, I don’t even know where to start. We had two very different births. Everlie’s was, Sarah’s waters broke early in the morning. There was Meconium. They were pretty keen on inducing from there, or just to keep monitoring her and stuff. Sarah was feeling quite unwell by that stage. We had gone in in the morning and poor Sarah, like the label was just kicking in real quickly.
She opted for an epidural, which was fine. And then we knew that she had had it with her girls and that she might choose to have it again, which she did. That really slowed down the process, but we were very lucky, similar to your photos Anna, that we all took a turn of laboring with her. So she was with Justin for a little bit. I held her for a little bit. David held her for a little bit, whatever she needed. This was prior to the epidural. And then once she had that, she just had to lie down. Probably one of the-
The main things I really learned from this, and this was from our midwife, we had an amazing midwife in Canberra, and she did say to us, she’s like, don’t hang around and watch her. She won’t labor well if you’re just watching her the entire time. She’s like, women need to labor on their own, feel like they can make all the noises, feel comfortable, you know, get their body ready. So we left the room a lot to give her some privacy, give her time with Justin. Also meant that we could talk, you don’t feel like you can sit there and have a conversation while she’s laboring.
There’s a lot of hard work here. A lot of hard work, that’s right. We did leave quite a few times and come back in and then once I was ready to go. Pretty much as you can see us there, that’s where we were. Justin took that photo actually. Sarah gave him one job and it was the money shot. That was your job and he absolutely got them. That’s the one. But pretty much as it is, I was right next to Sarah, David was up.
at her head, baby was out and straight to me, she was the first one to hold her. It was absolutely incredible. And as you can tell, taking you back to just those two shots. And I see Scare’s face like, oh thank god. It’s over. And just everybody, and I bet even for the midwife team, everybody that’s on board there, they would enjoy being part of a surrogacy team. We were really lucky with Everlie too, that we were part of a…
program called Catch, I think that’s got a different name now, but it was at Canberra Hospital. And so it was a continuity program, so we actually had the same midwife the entire way through. Yeah, and that was, unfortunately we didn’t get accepted the second time. They changed the way they did things and you just kind of had to get picked up and we just weren’t. While both girls were born at the same hospital, we weren’t with this one, we were in the continuity and it was so good because you know what it’s like every time you come into the hospital, they’re to re-explain why there’s four of you there. What is this situation?
We didn’t have to explain ourselves or that it was a surrogacy. Everyone knew exactly what was going on, who we were when we walked in. It was funny, all the other midwives, because Lou, who’s in there, was our midwife. Obviously, depending on where Neville was going to be born, would depend on who her second was, and they were all vying for it. But I think she got a good friend of hers come instead, and she promised it to her. So we’re two very experienced, lovely midwives with that. And that’s it, not having to re-explain yourself and say, this is mum, this is dad, this is surrogate, I’m not mum.
all of that and so that’s really good advice here. See I knew there’d be some… It is because we had that with Piper so we had the complete opposite. Every new midwife because they changed shifts obviously as they’ve been there. We were still by the third midwife of the day like we’re still in there like and we kind of had the conversation about surely there’s a whiteboard in their office that you could write something down. We were still explaining ourselves as because people would walk in and go weird that they brought a couple with them.
as their birthing partners. So yeah, we were explaining ourselves all the way through. At birth, wow. Yeah, that was rough in comparison. And I knew that this webinar would have so many gold gems of nuggets of disappear, things like that, this idea of continuity. So that’s something to talk about with a midwife team so that you do have a team with you.
for the majority of it, particularly for that language. If you can, absolutely. And so we’ll keep moving through. So then we’ve got some family photos you had done post-birth here. Yes, that’s right. Yep. So that was once we’d come back from Canberra, driven home back to Melbourne and had some beautiful family shots with a friend of ours who’s a newborn photographer. So very lucky to get those. And then we keep going. And so this is catch-ups, post-surrogacy.
with growing up. Yeah, so the one on the left is actually, so it should be about a week old there, it was just before we left, that we were still in Canberra at that stage. So we stayed at probably something else. Again, so many things, Anna, then come back to me. I feel like a segue to so many things. When we, because obviously Sarah is in Canberra, we were in Melbourne, we also had to navigate how long we needed to stay for. In part, we need to continue on with our life. We’ve got a newborn, we have to get settled, our life has to continue, but we also have to be really considerate.
considerate of Sarah and her feelings. And the best thing we ever heard at an early conference was, look, I think it was Katrina, but I can’t remember. Might not have been, but one of the psychologists was giving a talk and she said that for a surrogate, the head and the heart know that they don’t want that baby, but the body does. And so, you know, the hormones are gonna kick in and, you know, Sarah needed a baby cuddle. So we left it really open-ended. We gave a sort of a timeline. Like you can’t say we’ll stay three months. We said,
two weeks give or take and it was 10 days is what we thought that was. And when she was ready for us to go, like we left. So that’s the photo on the left is just before we left. The, the photo on the right is our first family holiday, which we have taken to, of course COVID ruined our yearly, you know, plans of that. So, but that was our first family holiday together in between Melbourne and, and Canberra. And then we did get another one between lockdowns.
all of that to juggle. So that’s great for people to hear, oh right, you still do catch up. Wow. And you might absolutely. Yeah. Interstate from each other. So then, you know, really powerful photos here to just to show this is friends being comfortable with each other. Yes, they were strangers beforehand, but but here we are. And then Sarah having cuddles with Eberly and then Eberly preparing to be big sister. Yep, absolutely. So the one on the left, gosh, I don’t even know how old Eberly is in that photo. Probably one. Give or take. Sarah came down by herself.
and just spent some time with her. That’s where that photo was taken. And then the one on the right was, any day now Piper, let’s go. That was… Yes. And I’m just going to add in here for anybody that’s been around the community for a while, this is a team that’s done parody videos along the way. So if anybody’s still in ASC, that main Facebook group, I’m sure they could go searching. They’re all on YouTube. There you go. What would they look up? A surrogacy parody is if you type that in and then you’ll see there’s old, we have labeled them.
one, two, three, four. So the ones is ones I’d say, well, we always say that one through four and then, oh no, sorry, it’s one, four, six and seven. There’s ones that you sort of go, like our family and friends love, anyone could enjoy them. I mean, everyone enjoys them, but there’s ones, especially if you’re from Melbourne, that surrogates and IPs will understand because we document.
We did one for PRP and yeah, transfer. And so those ones are a little bit more, I guess, for the community that I would understand what we were going through. But one thing, please, absolutely jump on to YouTube and have a look at them. For us, it was one, a way of connecting as a team, doing something fun. The surrogacy is emotional, it’s hard. You’re talking about so many serious things. That was a…
a fun outlet for all of us. It was a way to talk about surrogacy without talking about surrogacy. It was a fun way to get it out to our friends and family without people going, oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, or just it always being so depressing. Who is she? Yeah, I wanted to see what fun you, we wanted to show people what fun you could have. I guess it was almost a little bit of therapy, I’d say for me, I’m not saying that’s for the whole team, maybe for me, just because I am the-
was the one that I will get into as well but I was born without a uterus. It was my issue as such and so it was a way to, I don’t know, it was like that was my kind of therapy like people do art, people do drawings, people write poems and we did the parenting. Excellent. I think that’s great and just as we get to this so the mum that I was an egg donor for, the one in Queensland that needed a surrogate as well, as I remember saying to Beck one, you might not have, it might not be your egg
You have birthed this child by connecting all these people, building these friendships, navigating all these appointments. You’ve brought people together to create your child. So you have birthed a child Lauryn in a different way. You’ve created life and joy through those videos and as you say it was an outlet to get to focus on the project in a lighthearted way. Yeah. And so then Sarah offered to go again. She did. Amazing, isn’t she? Incredible. We knew from counseling.
that it was a possibility. So it was brought up very early on in our prior to Everlie being born, the transfer and everything. They do go as far as to talk about, of course, what you want for the future, how you see this panning out, which is all really important. The siblings were discussed and at the time Sarah had said there was a few things. One, she did not intend to be a surrogate for anyone else. So if it was us and it was one that she was done, it was she wasn’t going to be looking for another set of IPs, that she was open to the possibility of a sibling. Obviously with
Let’s see how number one goes first. You know, she can’t make any promises on that. She also post-Everlie being born, it was brought up again in our post-counseling, and same thing, she was in of the same thing of everything went well, but let’s see where we are in a year. Like, there was no commitments and we were fine. And we had that conversation pretty much actually a year after Everlie was born and it wasn’t…
hey, are we doing this now? From our point of view, we were still paying for embryo. Doris, thank you. Yep, yep, that’s, yep. So for us, it was starting to become that financial thing of how long do we pay for this? Or, you know, what do we think? So we had to have that conversation. And we just sort of said to Sarah, like, we, with absolutely no pressure whatsoever, we just want to see where your head’s at. Because if you’re thinking it not for you again, which is.
absolutely fine. We’re going to make a decision about our embryo. And that opened the conversation to that yes, she was willing to go again. She still wanted a little bit more time, wasn’t it then? And so all up three and a half years between Everlie and Piper. Yeah, that’s about right. And a global pandemic. Yeah, that didn’t help. It did not help with appointments. That created more time then, a bit more buffer if needed.
And we moved states, so it’s up from scratch. That’s right, so they’ve navigated the paperwork in Victoria and New South Wales, so people have specific questions about that. So then here we are at the birth of Piper, hey? Yes, completely different birth. Again, just as amazing, and as all births go, everyone’s different. Sarah, this time water’s broke again naturally, however.
she didn’t go into labour. So, um, active labour. So, our experience with the hospital was not as favourable the second time. If I’m honest, both times were, like, in terms of paperwork and things were really difficult. First time round, even though we were part of the continuity program, even on the day they did not have the right paperwork to release us. So, we were ready to go at about 10am and we got out there at four. So, yeah, it was rough. This time, and we stressed it, and we stressed it, and we stressed it, and it still kinda was…
Eh. As I said, we’re midwife changes, we’re explaining ourselves all the time, even down to the point that Sarah was on an induction list. And this would go for anyone if they were, this had nothing to do with surrogacy, if you were just, you know, a normal birth would be the same. But we were given a four day window for induction and there was, they didn’t even tell us that if you’re not going to be that day, they won’t ring you. So we had four days of, is it today? Is it today? No one rang you, no one texts you. It was, yeah, it was a really interesting system. They’re quite stessful at that.
point, like Sarah was over it, like we were almost at full term. Yeah. So we’d also come from a birth that they were IVF babies do not go past 39 weeks. We don’t like that. Yeah, this is what we’re doing. Two, this is what we told, told, told. We’re at like 36 weeks with Piper. Oh, we go to 40. And it’s like, okay, like they’re just out at a week. And Sarah’s like, I’m done, done. It’s not my child. Let’s get it out. And I think that the teams like yours who have gone before us, you know,
They’re paving the way for all the IPs listening tonight that eventually when your teams listening get to birth, there’s been other surrogacy teams go through the hospital system before you and trying to get some of that paperwork and people more used to surrogacy. So thank you for being guinea pig, you guys. Yes, you’re welcome. I am a paperwork queen after these two things. It’s project management, extremely. And then this is, so this time around you had Everlie, you know, being big sister to.
accommodate. So is this when she met her sister? Yep this is. So we had my parents came to Canberra and were staying so that they could have Everlie, you know, no matter what time, Piper, I think you’ve got to navigate that as well. So they had her, they brought just her, they didn’t come in, they just dropped her at the hospital. David went and got her and so we could have this time as a family so she could beat Piper. Yeah, beautiful.
And then to round it out, I’ve just got a couple more photos here. So there’s some catch-ups post-birth. Sarah with the four children that she’s carried in birth. Yep, that’s right. Her too. Lauryn, Heidi and then our two. Pretty special. And for her daughters growing up, too, you know, to knowing, you know, my mum did this, you know, and obviously you’re in her life, get their lives. But, you know, photos like this to help say, yeah, wow, that’s what my mum did. Yeah. And they’ve got such an amazing concept. Sarah and Justin, what?
open with them from day dot. They use the analogy which we used with Everlie as well that for when Sarah was pregnant with her second, she told Lara that she had a house inside her tummy and that’s where baby was growing. So she explained to them that I didn’t have the house, that I didn’t have it and I’m borrowing Sarah’s and she was going to grow. And happy day and we’ll never forget when she told Lara that this is what she was going to do, I think she had one question and then her next one was like, can I have a snack? Yes.
don’t care. Does it affect me? No. Yeah. And here you are as adults telling this big story and they’re like, yep, I’m done. Yeah. And for them, it’s just, it’s such a, it is, it’s a nothing. It’s part of their lives. My mom carried two extra babies. What of it? And for me caring for two dads, it was unique. And having been an egg donor, we’ve sort of said you need an egg and a seed to make a baby. Usually eggs come from women and seeds come from boys.
and you need a girl’s tummy to grow it. Matt and Brendan didn’t have a tummy to grow it or some other girl’s tummies are broken in that sense or they don’t have one, just the right parts. And so mine was working in spare. So we grew them a baby. And that’s it. Okay. Yeah. Can I have a snack? That’s right. And we’ll finish up with these beautiful photos here. Is that the same photographer that you had the other time? Lovely. Yes, it was.
Yeah. And so yeah, that’s and I guess as the photographer too to know you see that journey that you’ve been on it Yes, that’s just a family with two kids but to get there right pretty special Absolutely, and she was actually I should have meant she took the baby shower photo too. So Yeah, so she’s she’s been on she’s been on the journey with us. I tagged her in Facebook when I shared this photo Too so so so lovely. I guess for her to see her work still still around. Yes wonderful, so
We’ll just go back a bit to the beginning there, Lauryn. So you said that you were born without a uterus. So just tell us a bit about how old you were when you found that out. And then how did you find Sarah? And because did you canvas your family and friends about, you know, needing a surrogate before you found a stranger to do it? So I was 15 when I found out. So I have MRKH or anyone have that? Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome is a great one. And essentially, yeah, absence of uterus. So I was born without a uterus. I found it at 15. No, no periods.
There was sort of no reason to find out until that point that that’s what was happening. And so I then spent the next, I did a lot of counselling then. Would I just say that in terms of the difference between that and say a hysterectomy later, I do think that I was luckier in the sense I had a lot of time to grieve. And at a time when I wasn’t looking to have children either. So while yes, it was heartbreaking to find out that I wouldn’t carry. And back then, surrogacy was illegal in Australia. It wasn’t much longer after that, I will say.
going back to about 2003. I mean, if I’m right, it was about 2008 that it became legal, I think. At that time, it was sort of like, you have no uterus, adoption’s your only option. So that was it, that was kind of, and it was sort of like surrogacy overseas was like, oh, that will be out of your reach kind of things. But it was like, oh, that’s such a foreign concept. We weren’t going to that. It was really hard at 15 to get information because I wasn’t looking to have a baby. So no one wanted to give me that information because you’re not looking to have one now. So I spent my time grieving over, you know, what.
could, may not be. I did a lot of counseling. There is some really good, I don’t know if they’re in every state, but I was in Victoria, they had great adolescent counselors for MIKH. It’s actually quite so. I met many other girls that had the same as me. Yeah, so I did that. And then I guess just fast forwarding through all of that. I guess once it came time to have a baby, I had done that grieving. So I do think, I guess any of my advice for that, like going through that process and meeting women at-
I went to a lot of conferences, we went to dinners to meet people and talking to other women that were in the process of they had tried and they had been trying and they maybe had done IVF and it hadn’t worked and now they’re at that stage, it’s really hard to go from that stage into the thoroughly stage without grieving. You need to grieve what you can’t do for it. I think I was in a very fortunate position that there was no other, there was no plan B, that was it and I didn’t, I couldn’t grieve for something that I’d…
I’d never had an opportunity to do. You tried and tried, it didn’t work. In some ways similar to the two guys, well, your grief had been done earlier. So when you did get ready for surrogacy, you’re like, I’m here, let’s embrace this, I’m positive. Yeah. You were ready. Yeah, and my husband and I knew each other in high school. So he actually, by the time we were dating in our 20s and got married, he knew.
So that was a little bit easier, I guess, as well. And he has had my back up a thousand percent through the entire journey. It was always our journey, never my issue. It was our, you know, it became our combined issue. And it was he that actually joined the Australian Surrogacy Group on Facebook. He found that. And then I joined and then we decided, we did, as I said, we went to a conference, we did some catch up, tried to stay active, as you were saying before, tried to stay active in the group, introduce yourself, comment. And at the time it was a-
It was fantastic for us because you just got all your information you needed. You could either type in your own question or you could search it and generally it was on there. So I will say this was, I wish we had this though. This would have been way easier, so much better than finding your way through the Facebook page. This is much better. Thank you. All in one go then. Yes, so good. I wish we’d had that because you are just fishing for bits of information all the time. Now meeting Sarah, I will say we were very lucky and I can only put it down to fate.
They put up a, someone put up a post about any IPs in Melbourne, put your hand up sort of thing. And it was obviously a discussion that surrogates had had or I’m not too sure, but anyway, so yep, tag myself, put my hand up. Sarah was going down the list and she went, you know, go and chat to you. So she picked another lady as well. And it was just something about my name that she decided, yep, I’m going to chat. And she just messaged me and then we dated pretty much.
So you just, you don’t get, then you start dating. Um, I had been contacted by one other surrogate, same very, very close together actually, and we had a couple of messages and it just, it was like, they were like full essays and you know, trying to get all that information out there and there’d be heaps of time in between, and that just kind of fizzled as it, as it was. Whereas Sarah and I just clicked from the start, just honestly, just
getting to know each other and she talked about her family, I talked about mine. Then we started playing a bit of game of like kind of three questions, so she’d send me three. And it was usually like something really silly, might be something funny, and then a serious one about surrogacy. And we just exchanged those back and forth. She would answer them and send them and vice versa. We sort of did that for maybe, from three months maybe? Then we were both going to a Melbourne conference, so that’s where I met her for the first time. Yeah, so she was coming for information as a surrogate and we were going, okay.
coming obviously as IPs and so we had a coffee and just really kicked off a relationship from there. Yeah and now the rest is history really. Yeah and just for anyone so in terms of timeline it was probably six months between meeting her from when she offered and six months from offering to approval. That’s the textbook I recommend people do.
So yeah, perfect. And then, yeah, so due to birth. So it was April, April, April. We met in April. We got PRP in April. Everlie was born in April. So. Because you had a failed, a miscarriage. We did have a failed, yeah. So we would have had, from PRP, we would have had a transfer in May that didn’t take. And then we had the next transfer in the July, which took, so, and then born in April. And was Piper first transfer or second?
She was second and it was a failed transfer, not a miscarriage, a failed transfer. And we could have another whole webinar on the stuff ups of our IVF clinic in that second one. We actually had a, they transferred the wrong embryo. Now when I say wrong, it was ours, but an untested embryo. Yeah, so we could have a whole webinar on that. On our experience with Monarch. Funny extra webinar ideas. That’s right.
We did, we were with Monash before, Victoria and New South Wales. And I will just, if anyone is in the position that they go over the two, they are, do not like the States have their different laws. So does Monash. Like it’s not, there was not a lot of continuity between Victoria and New South Wales with Monash. It was like dealing with an entirely different team. Okay. So there’s still so much to learn, isn’t there? Yes. Australia. Yeah. You know, if there’s anything you could go back in time and do differently, is there anything from your journey that you would change? Oh, differently. We had a.
a very different experience with New South Wales and everything we had to do here. And it’s my experience that in Victoria that got us through in New South Wales. I knew the right questions to ask, I knew what was coming, I knew how to be proactive and what I might expect at each next stage. I wouldn’t have known that in Victoria having done it the first time, which is really lucky it went the way it did. We were much more supported in Victoria than we were in New South Wales. I don’t want a bad mouth.
There’s not so much the clinic or the people or anything, because I know people have had excellent experiences with Monash, although I’ve been about the faculty with Monash, but as I said, they are very different in the way that they run. We were very supported and you had clear people to go to in Victoria. New South Wales, it’s more of a team, which means you are kind of just a bit of more of a number because you’re just dealing with new person every day. We did actually a little bit of, like spoke to their sort of managing director and things like that. And he’s been…
very, very active in trying to make changes there. So I hope that continues that way. On the flip side, it was so much harder in Victoria. You have so many more troops to join it, like go through. Like there’s so many more steps that you have to do than in New South Wales. So yeah, it’s just. To jump through that PRP. Yeah, so I guess if we’d had something like this where I knew exactly what to expect, I would have been more proactive in maybe paperwork, in contacting, pushing lawyers for things and stuff like that.
Yeah, you’re really kind of at the mercy of their timeline. And when you know, you so desperately want something, it’s hard to say, you try to sit back and let things happen. But if I had done that in New South Wales, I wouldn’t, I don’t think Piper would be here yet. I wonder if you learn that too, partly through experience and having ups and downs, partly through chatting among the community and talking to others who have gone through similar things and hearing, hang on, that’s too long a wait. It’s probably okay for me to push. Yeah, absolutely. And so we had to transfer our embryo.
barriers were stored in Victoria so they needed to be transferred here and if I hadn’t have pushed that I am pretty sure that they would not have I don’t know if they would have been here like I had to keep asking about where they were and they gave me a date and then they still weren’t here and it was just yeah it was just things like that that you but that and that was hard to navigate and it was like the light of the right hand didn’t talk to the left yeah and it’s this highlighting that you know teams going to know
what hurdles they’re going to face, depending on your clinic and the people and the hospitals that you deal with. Would you say- Yeah, cause Victoria sort of like, while there was, I reckon, five more steps in Victoria, it was very clear. And you did this and you did this and you did this and you did this and they helped you and have you done this. New South Wales, it was sort of like, oh, we can do that. That’s not gonna be hard. And then you start a step and then suddenly you hear, oh, have you done this? I didn’t know I had to do that. It was not, there was not really.
checklist here or a guide of what was required, even down to the other flip side of it. So we still haven’t had our parenting journal yet. So pipe up, it’s coming.
But you know, we, Victoria, you have this whole beautiful day and you go to court and you meet the judge and you bring all your family. In New South Wales, it gets sent. We’ll send it to you in the mail. Very different. Yes, you have to make your own celebration if you want. Would you say that to navigate surrogacy, one IP needs to be the main project manager? Is there a lot to juggle? There’s a lot. A lot to juggle. And I’m going to say no. I think if everyone could put, if you are in that team.
I don’t, in terms of making appointments and things, yes, I probably did 90% of them. A little bit that would have been to do with my husband’s in the Navy, so you don’t want him to be the contact person when he’s in the middle of the ocean. But he took a toll on me because we didn’t have it easy on him.
in terms of paperwork, you know, there were speed humps and everything, but we had a lot of them. So it was always me that had to call, always me that had to send the email. So I think while yes, project manage, I think play to everyone’s strengths. So if someone in the group is so much…
better at something else or favours it, like let them do it. If you can share that load, you know, it’s hard, especially if it does fall on, I think, the female IP, just because I’m also the one that can’t have the baby. So it’s like, I’m the reason we’re here. I don’t think you should martyr it and then it means that I also now have to do all the work. It will take a toll. There’s too much to this. I think you need to share that out as much as you can.
and play to everyone’s strengths. But I think the biggest thing I would suggest to people, especially if you don’t actually know, even if you do know, know you sorry again. Sarah came up with the idea early on, we started a Google doc. We put all of our questions that we had in there. So it didn’t matter what, so it might’ve been, how do you see it going after birth? Who do you want to have in the birthing room with you? What if the baby has Down syndrome? What if one of you dies? Like I’m talking best case scenario questions to worst case scenario questions. And we got to about.
40 or 50 questions from memory. And what we did is David and I were visiting them in Canberra and over a glass of wine, we just started picking random numbers. We didn’t go one, we were sort of like, Justin would go seven. All right, let’s read out number seven and we answered it. And so we had all that time beforehand to put them in, but also time David and I answered them together, so Justin answered them together. Then we talked about them as a four, because as hard as it is, there are things that you have to talk about. And considering we didn’t know each other prior,
build that kind of relationship so that when the hard things come up, because Sarah and I have come to roadblocks together where she might have felt that I hadn’t contacted her enough or I haven’t sent enough photos and then I thought she might have said something that I didn’t really, I was like I don’t know how to take that, and we are absolutely seeing the praises of us doing that, getting to know each other, to be able to navigate those things because any issue we have come up against we have been able to talk about and move past and they will.
absolutely come up. They will for any team, even if it’s all great, there are still going to be hard times because you’re having a baby with four people and four people have different personalities and you’ll come across clashes. So that’s, yeah, that’s, I’ve heard of that technique before and I think that’s a great one to do to have those questions and having time to simmer over them and going back to them. So yeah, that’s some good advice. I knew there’d be so many wisdom points. I’m sure you’ve had chats with other brand new IPs over the years. Any advice that you often give them?
as they go on their way. Um, usually it’s a lot of what we’ve said, just make sure that you have done your grieving. Like that’s really important because there will be things. I remember I never was quite attached to being pregnant, I think because I knew for so long that I couldn’t. So that I didn’t have to grieve that it didn’t, if a friend was pregnant, I wasn’t up. Didn’t really affect me. I know that was beautiful and that was fine. But it hit me like a ton of bricks when Justin…
got to feel Everlie kick and I didn’t get to share that with David. It was my first sort of moment of oh my god I missed that. And it did in the long run it didn’t matter but there will be things that come up and so I think as I said like definitely do as much counselling and greeting as you possibly can. Prepare for all of those moments and be in a position when like I could talk to Sarah, I could tell Sarah that. I could tell her how I was feeling without her feeling bad about that because that’s not her fault.
I just shared with her how I felt about it and we talked about it together and everything was fine and off we got a coffee and off we went. Like, you know, life goes on. But I think it’s just talking through every possible scenario that you can, even down to we had it in our mind that I was holding Everly first, like that’s what was going on. And the midwife said to us, have you considered if the umbilical cord is too short? And it was like…
What do you mean? Are they all the standard length? Like, and I will… No, no, no, no. But I think, like, all this worry for me was I will not bond with this child. I was just like, Everlie and Piper are genetically mine and my husband, so I had ovaries. We could create embryos. Even though she was genetically mine, I was like, what if I don’t bond with her? What if I miss this moment? And actually, I do want to say to any IP that has that feeling, so I’m sure you do, don’t dismiss that straight away. That baby, whether it’s a donor egg or not, is yours. Like, is it? You will not…
mean anything to you when that baby comes out and you hold that baby. One way I’ve heard of it, talked about it, is even in a normal hetero couple, like my husband and I, we have had our own kids naturally, he didn’t birth the child, but he bonded with them. Every male in a hetero couple has, and all the two guy couples listening as well, they are not caring in birthing a child, but they’re going to bond.
with the child. So absolutely children can bond with anybody and many adult people too, as long as there’s caregivers there for them. Absolutely. And so I think be realistic. I think it’s lovely to have ideals and that’s why we’re going to talk to them as a team about what you want to do and how wonderful it’s good. Like they say, have a birthing plan that you throw out the window. It’s a similar thing. Like you, you will have a plan, but it honestly just won’t matter once you’ve got that baby. It just, it will not matter how it happened. And there was just, I think be really
We had an amazing midwife that was like, be realistic about emergency C-sections, about if she can only have one person in the room, it may not be you. Like, and suddenly what was going to be my big thing about me holding the baby first was like, if it has to be Justin and Sarah, it has to be Justin and Sarah. If there’s something wrong with the baby, it’s going to be a NICU nurse or a NICU doctor. It’s not going to be any of us. So, you know, it’s, um… I’ll be holding her at some point and then for the rest of time. Yep.
Exactly right. And then definitely just plan. We’ve met some other teams that it didn’t go so well for them a post-birth and the relationship has broken down for various reasons. So I think just definitely discussing how you see the future. What does contact mean to you? Because contact to me is different to contact to Sarah. You phone call people, you text people, you photo people. I think that’s really, really important. And because people, as you said, people say to me all the time, oh, do you still see it?
I speak to her more than my husband. No, I would, if a week, or if I reckon if around five days goes by one of us has sent a text, how are you just checking in once, how’s your week? We are very, very blessed. I know that doesn’t work for everybody, but I got a best friend out of it as well. We are now just two mums.
invent about our kids though. That’s great and I think that’s the goal to aim for isn’t it? That she’s one of your friends in your life that happened to carry you. Well I say well done, I think I’ve watched your team over the years you know and I think you’ve built a fantastic friendship and you’re a great shining example of how well surrogacy can be done in Australia. So thank you for being here and sharing that with us tonight and those that have been here tonight you’ve come on a great night to hear Lauryn’s story. Thank you for having me, more than happy to share.
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