Episode 24 – Danni – surrogate
Danni birthed as a surrogate in Adelaide in February 2021 for a couple who were initially strangers and are now life long friends. She had a little girl, Evie, for Sarah and Ben. Danni was initially a gestational surrogate for the couple but they moved to traditional surrogacy – meaning Danni is also the egg donor. Danni is a SASS Surrogate Mentor, hosts our Zoom monthly catch ups, and is a very dear friend of mine!
This episode was recorded in October 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? Consider joining SASS.
Welcome to our podcast series with Surrogacy Australia. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen and in turn for helping us spread awareness and appreciation for surrogacy. I’m your host Anna McKie and these recordings are from a regular webinar series that I run. You can find upcoming dates on our website at surrogacyaustralia.org. During the one hour webinars I will walk you through the surrogacy process in Australia and you can type in questions for us to answer. My co-hosts have all done
and they alternate between surrogates, gay dads and straight mums. This episode, recorded in October 2023, features Danni. Danni birthed as a surrogate in Adelaide in February 2021 for a couple who were initially strangers and are now lifelong friends. She had a little girl, Evie, for Sarah and Ben. Danni was initially a gestational surrogate for the couple, but they moved to traditional surrogacy meaning Danni is also the egg donor. Danni is a SASS surrogate mentor.
hosts our Zoom monthly catch-ups and is a very dear friend of mine. Although many of you will know Danny from hosting our Zoom monthly catch-ups, you might not know her full surrogacy story. It was about four years in the making for her team, starting with heavily medicated IVF cycles due to an unexpected diagnosis for her of adenomyosis.
They then moved to traditional surrogacy and she talks us through how home inseminations work. Danni has lots of great advice for both new IPs, intended parents and surrogates. And that includes, please get involved with the surrogacy community, trust your gut, both as IPs and a surrogate, and come for the dream, stay for the friendships. I hope you enjoy this episode. So Danni, thank you for joining us. And we’re gonna hear about your journey with Ben and Sarah. Take us back to the beginning. Yep.
Why did you want to be a surrogate and how did you find your IPs? Right. So initially, many years ago, I wanted to be a surrogate. It thought across my mind when a friend of mine couldn’t carry a baby. It sort of got pushed back. I became an egg donor, found the Australian surrogacy community whilst I was going through the process of egg donation. I saw a few videos, beautiful births, and I was like, you know what? Yeah, I’ve always wanted to do that. So I’m going to try and follow this path. I joined the community. I actually found Ben and Sarah.
through the Australian surrogacy community, but also off the base of a recommendation from actually the lovely Anna right here. I’ve forgotten that. Anna had attended one of our state catch-ups and I messaged her and said, hey, you need to give me the goss on who was there because surrogates like to talk. She mentioned several IPs that had been there at the night and I just did a bit of Facebook stalking. I came across Ben and Sarah’s posts and I kind of just fell in love with it.
them straight away and I messaged her on one of her posts, Sarah, and asked if I could private message her and we got chatting that way. You roughly remember what month and of what year that was? I’m just trying to think of the timeframe from then to now. Was yours about a four year journey? Yeah it was. So I joined the community in 2015 towards the end of it. I connected with Ben and Sarah in, oh now I believe it was eight.
April 2017, I was sitting around for about 15 months, just getting to know people in the community and attending catch-ups and learning about surrogacy. Not everybody takes that long, but I was also doing donation at the same time. So I was quite happy to sit back and take the time to do it. April 2017 was the first message to Ben and Sarah. We offered to carry their baby in September of 2017. Birth was in February, 2021. As you say, from when you offered, say six or so months after the chatting,
It clearly then took quite some time to achieve a successful pregnancy. So can you try and, you know, do a snapshot of those few years to get to the pregnancy that worked? Yes, for us, we connected as a team really well. Our first date went well.
fantastically and we obviously just kept talking on and off over those months and then come to offering. The counselling process was relatively smooth, the legal process was fine. It took, I’m going to say about six months to a year after that to sort of have that all completed with all the checks and everything, mainly because again I was still sort of in the process of donations and things at the time. From there we had quite an extensive journey. We went through one of the
from the obstetricians and everything was all a go ahead, went to the fertility specialist and actually found out that I had had some adenomyosis. I think that’s how you pronounce it. For those that don’t know what it is, it’s similar to endometriosis, but not on that scale. It’s actually just isolated the muscular wall of the uterus. A lot of women suffer infertility because of adenomyosis. I had no idea I had it. So that hadn’t impacted your own ability because you’ve got…
Three children, yeah? Yeah, yeah, I’ve got three kids. Given they were at this point in time, my youngest, I think was seven, six or seven. No, I had no idea I had this thing. I went and had an ultrasound and they went, oh, do you know that you’ve got this problem? And I said, well, no, should I have symptoms? And they said, yeah. And I said, well, I don’t. There were varying symptoms of that. So, you know, you’ve got something similar to endo or a lot of pain and things like that. Maybe just search up adenomyosis and see if you’ve got any of those symptoms.
From there, we, you know, had lots of ultrasounds and things, lots of discussions with the doctors to talk about medications. I was disappointed to have a really highly medicated cycle because of the adeno they wanted to treat that. And the way to treat that was to suppress all your hormones and put you into menopause essentially. Each cycle that we had from there was gonna be a three month stint. I started as a gestational surrogate. Ben and Sarah had three embryos in the freezer that they had.
saved there. They’d been frozen for quite some time by this point. I’m probably wrong, but I think it was around the six or seven-ish year mark. They were day three embryos because when Sarah had her collection, that’s what they were frozen at back then. Fast-boarding a little bit, we, you know, had a lot of other weird little medical problems pop up with my own personal health. A cold that went haywire and gave me a bit of underlying pneumonia and all sorts of weird little things. But eventually it all came good. We went for our
their embryo, their first embryo, after doing a three month stint on medication. Unfortunately, the transfer wasn’t successful. We then sort of regathered ourselves and went to prepare for a second transfer. Again, three months stint in this process. Second transfer was one, yeah. Just on that, so somebody, I think, who was in their 30s at the time, I can’t remember, you know, having to have these heavy sets of medication when you hadn’t needed that for your own children, was that challenging or was that something you…
you could push back on much with the doctors or in this particular scenario, due to what they’d found, it wasn’t really negotiable. I think at the time, like I really was very green to IVF procedures and my body even that I probably didn’t actually push back enough at the time. I didn’t know enough about it. I just sort of went with the flow because
hey, they’re specialists, they know what they’re talking about. In hindsight, I wish I had a pushback on that a lot more. Their medication cycles were hard. I was given like an injection in Avzolodex that goes for about the last two months and that basically suppresses all your hormones. So you’re going into menopause. Then from there, I was given another injection called Lucrin that sort of slowly just balanced out the hormones for a few weeks. And then from that,
point I was given a full Medicaid IVF cycle which was I think 10 to 14 days so they could pinpoint transfer. I also was…
put on steroids to suppress my uterus potentially rejecting, you know, their embryo. I was put on aspirin. I was put on HCG trigger injections. There was a few other ones. I can’t even remember them anymore. Progesterone, pessaries twice a day after transfer. So it was a lot, a lot of medication. I’d never had that much medication before. But again, I sort of trusted the doctors in this process. We did the first transfer. The first transfer failed.
actually went and had another appointment with a different doctor at the same clinic who was a specialist in adenomyosis that was actually a little bit of a heartbreaking appointment. He was very dead set on, no you’ve got adeno you can’t possibly carry a child. He told my IPs in the appointment to look for another surrogate because I’m probably not going to be able to carry but if they want to go down that path.
then we’ll try. So it was a lot of pressure. I remember leaving that appointment and talking to Sarah at the front of the clinic and just being absolutely god smacked that this was said. It was like, it felt like the journey was going to be over for me. You know, I didn’t know how they were going to feel about this information. Sarah was amazing. She always is amazing. She, she said, you know what, like, you know, I’m going to go, we’ll talk to you.
then we’ll talk about it and we’ll just sort of assess and go from there. They were obviously really happy to still go ahead. They had all faith and trust in the process and trust in me. We then had the second transfer, second transfer again was the same medication routines. I think they maybe up some dosages at the time and that failed. We then went for our third transfer.
same medication routine. So this is now like a year of transfers because it’s three months stint every time for me because I had adeno. Now the purpose of the medication was to shrink the adeno. That’s why they.
you into menopause because when you are in menopause you no longer have a period. Therefore the problem is gone. So a year worth of cycles. The third cycle was actually a really devastating day. It was something we didn’t really expect to happen. We were getting ready to go to the clinic, me and my husband and we got a phone call from Sarah at the time and she was absolutely distraught and she was so upset on the phone and they found out that their…
last embryo, their last genetic embryo did not make the Thor, didn’t survive the Thor. We didn’t even consider that as an option, that that would happen. That was gut wrenching. We took a few months to sort of process that and just recover from it. And in those few months, by this point, you know, we’d been friends for a couple of years now. And I knew I really wanted to give these amazing people a baby.
I couldn’t have found two better friends to want to sort of do this with. So I discussed it with my husband and we offered actually traditional surrogacy at this point where we would use my egg and go through the home insemination process. We threw them for a six. They were looking for an egg donor at the time. They’d had a couple of loose offers and a couple offers that just couldn’t work for
various reasons. So when I offered traditional, they were very unexpected of that. They’d never considered it really. I asked them to take some time, take a few months, talk about it or however long they needed and then come back and we can reassess. And yeah, they did. They did take some time. I’m going to say about two to three months. And in that process, we were still catching up and still doing things and hanging out because we were such good friends at this point in time. That’s not for everyone, is it? In terms of surrogates moving to traditional and for IPs too.
not everybody might be comfortable with that. For some that might be the end of their journey. If it can’t be genetically for them as a couple, that might be it. And also for them being okay with their surrogate also being the egg donor, that, you know, something they have to come to terms with. That’s probably a good moment for me to do a little plug. If people are following along on Surrogacy Australia’s podcast series that I’ve started, you can hear Sarah’s version of this story on episode five. So right back at the beginning, she was one of the first Mums Through
to pair this session that you’re listening to up with hearing Sarah’s side. Together. Yeah. So then you, so they eventually came back and said yes. And then, so you had to, you went down that path of home inseminations? We did, we did. So we had to change our legal contract because we’d switched from gestational to traditional. We actually had an amendment made to that with Simone here in Adelaide. She’s another surrogacy lawyer. From there, we, yeah, discussed the home insemination process.
I spoke to a few traditional surrogates about the home insemination process and how to do it and what’s the deal. We prepped and got everything ready for that and I think by the time I offered traditional was probably like December, I can’t remember what year, and we did our very first home insemination process in May the following year. It was an interesting process, a little awkward but not awkward. Sarah actually, Sarah and Ben made that like the smoothest transition I think you possibly could make in that.
That sort of scenario, it’s like we teed it up from when I’d left work. Okay, I’m going to be there in 20 minutes. And she had everything prepped and ready. And, you know, off I went into the room, did what I needed to do. Then went and sat and had a coffee on the recliner and, you know, kicked back and had some biscuits and chocolates and, you know, big hugs and hey, how you going? We did that.
three times over that month. So we actually tracked my ovulation cycle with a clear blue digital fertility kit that was really accurate. We also sort of getting a little bit nitty gritty here, paired that up with cervical mucus monitoring as well as body basal temperature, very accurate ways to sort of pinpoint ovulation as well. So I recommend if you’re gonna do the traditional route to try and pair as many and do some research because it…
it will just probably work better. So I remember having a conversation with Sarah the last time we did it on in that month and you know she was we were chatting about you know she’s chatting about organizing it for next month and I said to her Sarah like there might not be next month like we might not have to do this again you know we’re all pretty hopeful but you never know I was you know a little bit older in my 30s now and hadn’t been pregnant for I don’t know probably nine years by this point 10 years and yet then
That was it. We sort of waited. We were in the two week wait after that. I went on a holiday with my friends and we did tee up that we were gonna test on particular days. Did test on those days. I remember testing on a Thursday before I went on a holiday and I did the test and you know, looked at it first thing and went, oh, it’s negative. Right, threw it in my handbag. So I was racing out the door to work. I don’t know why I threw it in my handbag.
When I left work, I was cleaning out, you know, my handbag. I was like, oh, I better get rid of that. And I had the faintest, faintest positive line on it. And I thought, no, no, must be an EVAP line. Let you know, just get about it. I’d spoken to Sarah that day and said, hey, I did test. It was negative. This is before I saw the EVAP line, just to be clear. And she said, that’s okay, we’ll test again on Monday. That was our next plan. Cause that was the day my period was due. I just, I actually couldn’t.
weight. So I went to the chemist and bought more tests. I bought early response tests instead. I think many surrogates have probably done this. It was like constantly peed on stick like every day, multiple sticks every day in the hopes to see that line. Yeah, I did it in the afternoon and I looked at it and there was a faint line and I said to my kid, my daughter at clarity, I was like, oh my god, can you see this line or am I imagining this? Is that actually there?
Like, do I want it that bad? And no, she’s like, yeah, I could see that, mum. So then, you know, the excitement came and I was testing every day while we’re away. When I went and gave them the news of the pregnancy, we’d just come back from holiday, we actually rocked up surprise on their doorstep. They weren’t expecting us. I told them that we’re off to visit some friends and we’re just stopping through. My daughter, Clarity, had made these little things while we’re away. It was a little picture and it was the baby train.
Sarah had always said she wanted to be on the baby train because all her friends were on this baby train and everyone was having babies. And so my daughter made these tickets while we were away and they said admit one mum and admit one dad on the baby train. You know, this is the arrival date or departure date and arrival date. Yeah, we sat at their kitchen counter and it was all a bit sort of casual and we went up by the way, the kids have got a present for you and Clarity and Dustin handed them the ticket.
we handled some tests, there were lots of tears, and just disbelief that it had actually worked. So that’s went up until then. Yeah. And I remember seeing that video that you filmed of their reactions of that, this is happening, we are pregnant, amazing. And, and so remarkable too, that after a year of trying with the heavily medicated cycles, first month, you know, it works for you all, just shows that you were a fertile woman. And the other thing to note too, is that just to clarify for anybody wondering about home inseminations, what Danni means then is that Ben
did his part of the sample. So when they did it three times in that month, that meant that he did his contribution separately. Sarah brought that to her in a specimen sample and then Danny used that to insert into herself. And that’s, I probably should have clarified that when I said did it. Yeah. Cause we’ve been around so long. We know what I mean there. Yeah. I can see how that would be confusing. We did not do it. Let’s be clear. Yeah.
It’s not very, we don’t do that sort of traditional Sarah. No, no. Don’t even know what that would be called there. So I’m going to go back to the photos now. So let me take our way through those and see the lovely ones from pregnancy. So we were 24 weeks pregnant then. This was Ben and Sarah’s baby shower, their gender reveal. I actually got to like organize the reveal for them. They organized the party, but I organized the gender reveal. My husband and I knew the gender.
of the baby. We found out through NIP key testing at 10 weeks. Really hard secret to key. We didn’t tell the kids just in case they blurted it out. So yeah, we organized these beautiful pink moat Canada and Ben and Sarah had their mom and dad involved in the whole gender reveal process. It was an amazing day actually to witness that how much love these two people have around them and how big of a village this baby was going to have.
This photo in particular was actually, I think one of the first times Sarah actually put her hand on my belly and I think felt comfortable doing it and it was just a bit sort of surreal for her that this was happening. Funnily enough that night like we had an anterior placenta so that means that the placenta was at the front of the stomach so I actually didn’t get any…
movements and things until quite late on in the pregnancy. And that night I went home and it’s the first night that I felt their baby kick and I you know messaged them very next morning I was like oh my god this happened and and shared that with them so yeah. That’s beautiful yeah lots lots of things shared together on the journey. So we’ll keep going through these photos you guys had some beautiful maternity photos taken as a team. Yeah gorgeous maternity photos um one of Sarah’s friends took these photos that were
fabulous photos. We had actually the kids, my kids there as well. This one with Sarah’s hands on my belly is my favorite photo. Such a special moment for us. And because how do you capture surrogacy in a photo with it not just looking like other couples but that that photo there says that’s your baby, my baby in your tummy? Yeah, yeah, that’s right.
Yeah, beautiful photos. And then your team. These were my favorite. You had a good sense of humor as your team. Tell us about these things. We did, we did. So my hubby really liked looking at these awkward like photos that people made for their maternity shoot. So we came up with this awesome idea that every week from week 30, we would send Ben and Sarah an awkward recreation or an original photographs. Obviously you can see this is baby right. I was pregnant with them.
With the EV at the time at 30 weeks, 34 weeks, Troy decided to do the old thing.
like a thank you, that’s the one. And this one on the 35 weeks, probably one of my favorites, this was Troy’s idea to do the Pac-Man belly and the ghost. Their faces are hilarious. We did Star Wars ones, we did a Christmas one, we did like a Bogan themed one, they were great. So every week we’d send one and we’d send one with an update and be like, this is what happened this week. So yeah, it was our way to share with them. And then that was the day of birth. Yeah, this was birth.
the peak of COVID but just after COVID but during. We weren’t allowed to have a birth photographer on the day so my hubby Troy was given the duties of doing the photography as well as being yelled at every now and then by me like where are you, why are you out of my sight? He did a great job. This photo on the left hand side was just after I’d birthed Evie. It was the weirdest, longest, quickest labour I think I’ve ever had. We went in for an induction the night before.
We got given gels. Body was not prepped and ready for that. Got given gels the next morning. So gels is a way that they induction for those that don’t know. It just sort of helps open the cervix and get moving and contraction started. Then nothing was happening. All day nothing was happening. I was standing around all day and we had this really long day and we played Oona. We were talking and laughing and nothing was going on. About one o’clock they gave me a pitocin drip.
which is a hormone that they sort of push labor along and push your contractions along. And we were only two centimeters dilated at one o’clock, so it’s not even active labor at that point. So by this point I was becoming really disheartened actually because all my other labors were sort of not quick but like six hours minimum, but I’d not had an induction like this. It was about five o’clock that night that the midwives like, you know what, we’re going to do a check because my contract weren’t…
pressing quick enough till they were there, but not strong. She checked and she’s like, oh barely like three centimeters dilated at five o’clock. So I’m thinking to myself, this is going to be ours. Well, this is going to be in a movie section. I’d never had a C-section before. It was kind of scary. 45 minutes later, Evie was born. So five o’clock. Wow.
Yeah, five o’clock they checked me and said, no, you’re not even in active labour yet and 45 minutes later she was out and born. So it was super quick. It’s sort of after that last check, everything came really hard and really fast and you know, they kept trying to bump up the gas and it wasn’t, I had a gas, you know, with my delivery and I didn’t have an epidural. And we did do some hypnobirthing. I didn’t find that extremely helpful. I’m not a hypnobirther as it turns out. Although my midwife was fantastic at helping bring me back to some really
calming point and yeah, so they kept pumping up the gas and nothing was working. The pain was just getting worse and worse. And I remember saying to them, I need to push, I need to push. And the midwife was across the room and she was like, no, like you’re only like three centimeters, like 25 minutes ago. It was a bit scary at that time. We’d lost, not lost Evie’s heart rate. She went from 140 as a normal, normal-ish heart rate, 70. Um, so alarm bells were called. We all of a sudden in this room where we were only allowed to just have four people because of COVID.
We had like 12 people standing in there ready to race off to emergency delivery. And the doctor came in and checked and I was like, I need to push. The midwife said, no, no, I’m sure like, you know, baby’s position might be a bit funny if we’d had juice and the doctor said, I’ll just do a check and next minute, like, Evie’s head’s basically half out.
So everyone was rushing, nothing was prepared, the baby stuff wasn’t ready, it was very unexpected. So yeah, this photo there is just after I had Evie and I remember looking at Sarah and being like, you know what, we did it Sarah, like this is your baby, your baby’s here and everyone talks about this moment that people want. And I just, this look of like disbelief on her face, like I was waiting for her to register, I was waiting for the emotion to kick in. It was like she was just shocked at whatever’s just happened.
on top of Evie and said, you know, like, this is your baby, like, we’ve done it, Sarah. You know, you’re finally a mum. And yeah, you made her a mum. Yeah, I still get really emotional about that moment. That’s lovely. It’s a big dream, you know, come to fruition.
And yeah, then we did this beautiful handover moment where I finally got to give Evie to them. I didn’t know that her name was Evie at the time, obviously. And then sort of their emotional moment back to me was, you know, obviously saying thank you a million times. But then Sarah told me Evie’s name and her name is Evie Daniella. And Daniella is my first name. So she gave her my middle name. It was beautiful. A very, very powerful emotional day and moment for all of you. Yeah.
It’s beautiful to relive it with you. And it’s still clearly that it’s a very special part of your life I can hear. Oh yeah, very much so. Yeah. Yeah, I love it. I love talking about it. I love looking at the photos still. So I might be a bit obsessed with it. This is my husband, Troy. Yeah. He’s holding Evie for the first time. This was like 40 minutes after she was birthed. He did such a good job with the photos. He actually got like the birth.
clock on, you know, in the photos and everything. Another really emotional moment was actually my kids. This is Dustin on the left, Jordan in the middle and Clarity on the right meeting Evie for the very first time. I just cried my little heart out that day. It’s special isn’t it? When your babies meet their baby. Yeah, yeah. You know, our kids were really involved in the process. They were, yeah, so included by Ben and Sarah all the time.
I am Ben and Sarah’s family and you know, they got to go out with Ben and Sarah without us and spend time with them. And Ben and Sarah just really like wrapped our kids in as like their own, you know. Jordan, he had his 13th birthday party at their house when you know, the weather turned horrible down at the beach and you know, like they’re just the best of friends. They’re the best people and the most incredible human beings. And yeah, I was really proud to share this with our kids and us. It was like a…
you know, the journey, right? It is. And then life goes on as you continue to have catch-ups and parentage order day here in the school. Yeah, parentage order. That was a great fun day. Like you, Anna, we went and did a brunch thing after. The judge was great. She was, you know, like so happy to have a nice, beautiful, pleasant case in the youth.
I’m happy to take photos and be involved in all of it. Everyone was just really happy that day. We’ve got beautiful Simone there, another fellow, Sarika, who did all our lawyer side of it, and she’s a dear friend as well. So yeah, beautiful day. And then is this a photo then of a birthday or just another catch up? Yeah, so this is Evie’s first birthday. Again, there’s my three kids and we’re holding Evie. And these two people on the right-hand side, it’s actually my mum and dad. They were really involved just well. Ben and Sarah, again,
so beautiful at including them. Evie’s first birthday was again around the COVID times. We still had restrictions. So I think only like, you know, 20 people could sort of gather together in a public place. And amongst those 20 people was, you know, my mum and dad, and they wanted to have my mum and dad there. And I just, yeah, I can’t thank them enough for how much them and also their parents have been so welcoming to my family.
I think that’s a great sign of a great team there where you’re saying, Evie’s first birthday, your parents are there. This is the type of village that comes together, isn’t it? It’s not just you and the surrogate doing it for a couple. It’s an extended village that gets created there. Yeah, yeah, it’s our family. Yeah. This is my daughter Clarity and Evie. Like you, Anna, we do a Christmas tradition. I love it. We’ve got it all booked in for this year. You know, we’ve done the Christmas tree now a few years in a row. And you know, this was the year I think we got.
Yeah, Evie to help put the decorations on. Evie and Clarity are like little besties. Evie loves Clarity and Clarity loves Evie. It’s really sweet. Clarity’s a great babysitter too, we learned that. Yeah. That’s another thing too. I think we’ve got that in a photo coming too, the babysitting duties, but we’ve also, I got to attend your wedding last year and so Miss Evie was a part of your wedding too, wasn’t she?
Yeah, she was. Yeah, she was our little flower girl along with my niece, Madison. And she did such a great job. And I loved this day so much because like, you know, like.
You birth this beautiful baby and they love you when they’re really young, but then watching them grow and becoming, you know, you get to watch them become these little people, but they’re so in love with their parents, which has been in Sarah. So, you know, those stages of toddlers where they’re like really cautious of everybody except their parents. Yeah. For so long, Evie just like she’d like watch me from afar. She, she didn’t really, like she engaged with me, but from a
Like she was super cautious, but this day, this wedding day, like she actually let me pick her up and give her a big cuddle and she was happy to stay with me. And it was like so beautifully rewarding. By this point, we’d taken her out of her flower girl outfit because she was getting tired by then. Beautiful, share that with them.
People from the community came to our, we had like, you know, I think a good 10, 10 to 12 members of the South Australian community who are all my friends that I’ve met over the years, attend our wedding. So, yeah. That’s it. You, you might come in for IPs, but then you come away with a village, don’t you? That’s right. And yeah, this is babysitting day where we looked after Evie for the very first time. Ben and Sarah went out and we did baking.
playground, I’ve read stories and it was a really beautiful day to spend with her and I was so grateful that they entrusted us to look after her, you know, this is their precious baby and yeah we carried her a few years before but leaving it.
toddler with someone’s heart sometimes. I think again, a credit to your team that you got to this point where everybody feels comfortable with that. And then our final photo here is I know is a beautiful tradition that you’ve got. Tell us about these two photos. This is my favourite photo I think now of the whole journey. This one at the top is the day that we offered to carry Ben and Sarah’s baby at the Adelaide show. So September in 2017, we surprised them with an offer. We basically said to ourselves on the way there, if the kids love Ben and Sarah, we’re just going to…
just going to offer and and we did before they left it was so important for us and so beautiful for us to go back to the show this year and take this photo now with their baby in there with Evie in that photo right in the center so yeah just a whole it’s like yeah you know start to the finish in one one collage yeah yes and lovely to see your kids growing up too five years on yeah i know god they’re so big now yes a little that’s beautiful thank you for sharing those beautiful photos with us that’s okay
Yeah. So we’ve got lots of questions. We have, which sometimes happens, sometimes doesn’t. So Jamie and Cody asked, how did your IPs pay for your medical expenses? Did your team have a way of streamlining this and what advice would you give to IPs to make this process as comfortable as possible for their surrogate? Oh, good question. Good question. So yes, my IPs covered all medical expenses. They did that by setting up a card that was connected to their account. So it was the card was in Sarah’s name. It was just like a
second card that she had. So they always made sure that there was money in there. I’m not a hundred percent certain on the amount. I think it was around the thousand dollar mark. Could have been more, but basically there was always money on the card. So being that they attended most of our appointments anyway, Sarah would just, you know, pay for them on her own card or sometimes say, I’ll just use your.
this card for now. So if I ever had to purchase anything at the chemist like multivitamins or I had to go to a doctor’s appointment or something they were always there for anyway. Then yeah, I would just I would just use the card. It’s probably the easiest way to do it. I think what’s really important as IPs is that surrogate will not ask for money. It’s a really awkward thing to talk about actually. So as an IP
To streamline the process, I’d recommend having a card, have X amount on it, make sure your surrogate’s aware of the amount and that when your surrogate says, I use the card, re-top up the card. Some things cost several hundred dollars and some things cost $20. Let them use the card if they need to go get takeout for their family for the night because they just can’t possibly do anything. 35 weeks pregnant or well, even 12 weeks pregnant doesn’t.
doesn’t matter. That would be how to make it comfortable because the surrogate will quite often go and you know pay for something herself and not ask for the reimbursement. I don’t know why we do that we just do. Yes, trust her that she’s going to use the card for the right things. Yeah, yeah. I mean I could have gone on a shopping spree but I didn’t. I did those things with Sarah. So you know for maternity clothes like that all the fun stuff.
Another question, has being a traditional surrogate had any extra challenges? Can you also talk to the relationship you have today with your surrogate and IPs? Yeah so I actually found traditional surrogacy strangely not challenging. I know that sounds really weird, when I first joined the community I remember looking at these amazing traditional surrogates like Sarah Jefford and Amanda and going oh my god I could never ever possibly do that. Like these women are amazing, that’s like next level. How do you get to that?
point of wanting to do that. So when I came to that point of wanting to do that, having known Ben and Sarah for years now, they were such dear friends. I had such trust in them and faith that, you know, it was all gonna work out. I don’t really think it had any challenges for me on a personal level. Like I still never have looked at Evie, even after she was born and gone, oh my God, that’s my genetic child. I know she’s genetically related to me. I don’t have the same feeling for her that I have
for my own kids. It’s a different kind of love. She looks a lot like me when I was a kid. Like that’s probably been the weirdest part. Like my mom would always be like, Oh my God, Danny, she looked like so much like you. That was probably the weirdest part about it. The relationship we have today is stronger than it was when we first.
went through the surrogacy process. We really are the best of friends. It’s not even friends anymore, it’s family. They’re the most probably trusted people in our life and we love them and we love spending time with them and even their families. So great relationship, fantastic relationship, worked and done with hard work and honesty and preparation.
and just being true to each other. Yeah, I think it’s a credit to you all for the work that you’ve put in there. Carrying on from that, another question says, and what sort of language do you and your family use to refer to Evie? Is it cousins or something different? I mean, your kids were a bit older, so in terms of the language of, oh, they know she grew in your tummy, but I wonder what language Evie even herself might use as her language develops. Yeah, I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure where.
Where that will go, check in with me in another year or two on that one with Evie. My kid, we don’t have any special words for it. We don’t use cousins. We don’t use tummy mummy. Um, we don’t really use anything. If anything, my youngest son, Dustin, he, he will tell people about Evie and they’ll be like, oh yeah, all babies are special. And Dustin will be like, no, no, you don’t understand. Like this baby is the most special.
That’s probably the extent of the language. They just think she’s the most amazing little human. So I wonder if that’s a credit to surrogate teens when you actually move past language and you’re such a part of each other’s lives. It doesn’t matter because she knows that she grew in your tummy and your kids all know that and it actually doesn’t matter because you’re just family. Yeah, I think that’s probably our term. We’re family. That’s something for you is we’re just family. And anonymous asks, what advice would you give to IPs who are actively looking for a surrogate?
Are there any tips to make you stand out in the crowd? So yeah, so Danni, what was it that drew you to your IPs or what was it over the years that you’ve, advice that you’ve learnt to pass on to IPs who were hoping to be picked? Yeah, so something that drew me to Ben and Sarah was their involvement in the community, their involvement in organizing catch-ups and attending catch-ups. My advice to IPs who…
are looking is to be involved in the online community. Please comment, share stories, create interesting posts, even if it’s just about what you did on the weekend. Hey, what did you guys do? Anything like that.
It doesn’t have to be specifically surrogacy related. It’s just to help break down the barriers of the getting to know you. I also recommend like come along to a monthly Zoom session or a few of them and get to know some of the members that come there. Having other intended parents and other surrogate that have gotten to know you on a more personal level, even if they’re taken and they’re teamed up with somebody else, they’re gonna be the ones that are gonna have your back as well and go, hey, as a surrogate, you’re looking for IPs in Victoria. I know these really great.
couple that I met through the zoom or I met through my personal in person catch up state catch ups 10 them as well. So it’s more than just putting up an introduction every single time. It’s about getting actively involved in your community. That is how you stand out and just stand out by just being you and being open and honest with people. Don’t try and be the person that people that you think you have to be to get a surrogate just be who you are. That’s good advice because the mask of being somebody else can you?
That’s right. Get involved. Please get involved actively. That’s it. So coming along on Friday night, people to surrogacy occasions in the week. We expect to see you all there. Not that we can see you tonight, but you can see us. What other parting advice then, Danny, for people? What other learnings from your own team or things you’d like to pass on? My next piece of advice would be to really trust your gut.
as an IP or a surrogate, trust your gut. If something feels right, it’s probably right. If something feels wrong, it’s probably wrong. As an intended parent, it’s really hard to say, no, this person that’s offered to be my surrogate isn’t right for us. That can be a really difficult thing to come across because you don’t, maybe you don’t think you’ll never get another surrogate and you have to just sort of settle. You gotta ask yourself, would you settle in real life?
Like if this was someone you were going to marry, would you just settle? And same with surrogates, it’s the same thing. Like you don’t have to just settle for the first person that messaged you or the first post that you saw. Get to know the people in your community. You might not even be settling, but you know, it’s a word I’m going to use at the moment. Yeah. Yeah. Get involved, trust your guard. And if you feel like you possibly, as a surrogate, if you feel like you’ve met these amazing people and that you possibly could.
not imagine anybody else being the surrogate or not ever being a part of their journey, then they’re probably the right people for you. I think that sums that all up perfectly there. I don’t know, I think I could end it there. If you’re just a good person and you’re just you and you’re just truthful, things are going to work out in the wash anyway, but it’s not always going to take, it’s not going to be quick, it’s going to be time. But as people can see from your photos and the beautiful friendships that you make from it, not just in your, those people in your house, but clearly your parents and their families and you know.
involved in each other’s weddings and birthdays and things like that. You’re here to create friends for life and it might not feel like it at the beginning because you just look like a surrogate, but ultimately there’s going to be some big friendships that come from this and even us, like Danni and I, are really good friends. And you know, we didn’t know that that was going to happen seven years ago too. And so yeah, it’s something to be a part of, isn’t it? That’s exactly right. As we said earlier, Anna, you come for the dream.
that you stay for the friendships that you make. You’ve given me too many potential hook lines for this podcast episode. You come for the dream. Yes, thank you. I actually wanna still instill one quick last piece of advice. Also, if you’re an intended parent that already has a child, please don’t ever feel like your want for another child is any less than somebody’s that doesn’t have a child yet. So please join the please, you know, pursue.
pursue your options and get to know your community. Don’t put yourself in the background like you don’t matter because you do. Great advice again. Surrogates I know particularly do like to carry for people who already have one child because it actually…
they can see what those IPs are going to be like as parents already. And they want to help create a sibling for that child. So there’s the right fit for everyone out there, isn’t there? Yeah, that’s exactly right. There’s always the right fit for somebody and no one journey should, they shouldn’t all have to look the same. Each person’s journey is individual and different. Definitely. And you’ll only learn that by coming and watching lots of other journeys and going, oh, I like those bits of their journey and that, and now I’m going to create my own. Yeah, that’s right. Thank you for listening to this episode.
To see the beautiful images mentioned, head to our YouTube channel to watch the webinar recording there. If you’re looking for more support and potentially connecting with a surrogate or intended parents, head to our website, surrogacyaustralia.org, to check out the resources and to learn more about SASS. Please subscribe to this podcast if you found it valuable and share it with someone so they too can benefit from this conversation. Until next time, welcome to the village.
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