Episode 36 – Partners of surrogates
Guests: Jayden, Kelly and Troy
Hear from 3 people who supported their partners through Australian surrogacy.
We were joined by Jayden, Kelly and Troy and went through:
- What were your first thoughts when she brought up the idea of being a surrogate?
- How did you find IPs?
- How did your children feel about their mum being a surrogate?
- How did your extended family react?
- How was the pregnancy?
- How was the birth and those first few weeks/months after?
- Surrogates usually feel a high after surrogacy by birthing a child for their friends – how did you feel?
- Do you still see the parents and the child?
- What would you do differently?
Kelly’s wife, Merindah, birthed as a surrogate on the Central Coast in November 2020. They had a little girl, Josie, and the two dads live in Sydney. Kelly and Merindah have 3 children of their own and the IPs were previously known to them through Kelly’s work.
Hear from Merindah in episode 39.
Troy’s wife, Danni, birthed as a surrogate in Adelaide in February 2021. They had a little girl, Evie, for Sarah and Ben who also live in Adelaide and were initially strangers. Danni has 3 children and the journey went from Gestational to Traditional surrogacy.
Hear from Danni in episode 24.
Jayden’s wife, Jessica, birthed as a surrogate in Adelaide in May 2020. They had a little girl, Amalia, for Baden and Nelson, who live in QLD. The dads were initially strangers, now life long friends and their team is planning a sibling journey in the future.
Hear from Jess in episode 27.
Recording from 30 November 2022
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 to Surrogacy Australia’s podcast series. I’m your host, Anna McKie. Thank you for sharing your time to listen to this episode. These recordings are from the regular one-hour free webinars that I run, which I invite you to attend if you haven’t already. They take you through how surrogacy works in Australia, including how to find a surrogate or intended parents, there are opportunities to ask questions, and you hear from a co-host each time about their own journey.
This episode recorded in November 2022 is slightly different to our standard webinar series as it involved three sets of co-hosts, Jayden, Kelly and Troy, who are all partners of surrogates. Let me tell you a little bit about each of them. Kelly’s wife, Merindah, birthed as a surrogate on the Central Coast in November 2020. They had a little girl, Josie, and the two dads live in Sydney. Kelly and Merindah have three children of their own and the IPs were previously known to them through Kelly’s work. Troy’s wife, Danni,
Birthed as a surrogate in Adelaide in February 2021. They had a little girl, Evie, for Sarah and Ben, who also live in Adelaide and were initially strangers. Dani has three children and the journey went from gestational to traditional surrogacy. Jayden’s wife Jessica,
birthed as a surrogate in Adelaide in May 2020. They had a little girl, Amalia, for Baden and Nelson, who live in Queensland. The dads were initially strangers, and at the time of this recording, they were planning a sibling journey, which happened. Jess birthed another girl, Oriana, in July 2023. Each of the surrogates connected to this episode have also joined me on a webinar. You can hear Jess on episode 27.
Danni on episode 24 and Merindah’s episode has not yet been converted to a podcast, but you can find it on our YouTube channel or coming up in episode 39.
This webinar recording can also be watched on our YouTube channel. The questions we discuss in this episode, you can find in the show notes. My secret dream when I coordinated these guests is so this recording could be of use to future surrogates and their partners. So when a potential surrogate brings up the idea of wanting to be a surrogate and her partner has some initial concerns, they could listen to this episode together, discuss any parallels, and hopefully ease some of the fears that are common at the beginning of a surrogacy journey. If this episode is helpful to you,
please send me a message and let me know. I hope you enjoy this episode. Alrighty, so I think we’ll just go around the group and we might take it in terms who starts each question each time. And we’ll just have a.
and capture each person’s journey as best we can. And as we said before, trying to imagine what you each would have liked to have known, you know, way back at the beginning, any questions or concerns that you had. So on the top of my screen is Troy. So I’m gonna ask you the first question. What were your first thoughts when Danni brought up the idea of being a surrogate? Well, for me, I mean, one of the first things you probably say is me and Danni, we have three wonderful children, but none of them are my own biological children. I came into…
relationship with Danni with her three children. Never intended to have kids of mine, quite happy being on mine. I love now having kids around me, it’s awesome. And Danni had already done egg donations to help people out and I thought that was an amazing thing. She was doing an amazing thing and one day she brought it up. I’d like to ask you about something, it’s called Surrogacy. What do you know about it? It starts with the letter S, ends with urrogacy.
That’s pretty much all I knew about it. She ran through everything with me and saying that she’d like to…
be part of it and to help out a couple if she could. Being from someone who never had kids to also having three and finding such joy in it, I was like, well, if we can help a couple out to have their own joy in their life like this, who am I gonna stand in the way of? So that’s how it started for me. Cool, so you weren’t too worried initially and you’d sort of been weaned into it by sort of building the family with Danni. I was weaned into it, definitely, yeah. Danni always went through every step, just showing me history of surrogacy and how it works in Australia and not a quick thing.
It’s not an easy decision, you know, we’ll spend the time going through it all. And I have to admit, you know, it wasn’t like that. I was like from the get go, oh yeah, do what you want. But the more I thought about it, I’m asking her to go through this whole pregnancy thing. Why would I do that for someone else? You know, what’s going on? But the more I got into it, the more I could see what a good thing she was doing. That’s lovely. A great team you’ve got there. What about for you, Jayden? What were your first thoughts when she brought up the idea? Oh, it was certainly a
left the ballpark thing, but that’s nothing unusual for Jess. She likes to just throw these curve balls in every now and then. Yep. Um, it all started because her sister couldn’t fall pregnant. She had her first challenge. She, she wanted to have a second and it wasn’t working. We had our two, we were always locked in at two, no matter what we got. Two was our number. Her sister was struggling to fall pregnant the second and she, that was when the talks came up.
maybe I’ll have a baby for them. So that was already in the works. And then that process was kind of starting to get off the ground. And then her sister fell pregnant and had another daughter. It was just like, well, I was going to do it for Sarah. So why not? Why not look into the world of, sorry, I really did not think about it until she, as they all view, you know, if you want to do it, I’ll support what you want to do. I’m not going to stop you from that. And then that’s how the process started really. It was certainly something different, but that’s not unexpected from us. Roll with the punches and just to support what she’s got in mind. Yeah. That sounds similar to my journey. So you two guys and my,
team we carried for people we didn’t previously know and my husband Glen always said as long as you do your research and don’t rush in okay I’ll get on board with this investigating but then onto you Kelly your team carried for people that you previously knew you actually knew the people through your work Kelly so who brought it up first did Merindah bring it up the idea of that she could do this or was it a joint discussion yeah well I guess it’s my fault um
Because I had told John that I was actually pregnant with twins at something that we were doing, like just on the deal, because it was really, really early on and we were at a conference and I just had to tell him about dietary requirements. And that sort of opened up a discussion that he was telling me about how him and his partner were going through, through IVF as well. And he’s like, I’d love to ask you questions and things like that. And then in the lunch break, we started talking about surrogacy and he’s like, you know, John had sort of said to me that they were looking for a surrogate and how hard it was. And I just came home and I was just like, you know, this happened today.
and you know I was talking to John and blah blah blah and I had mentioned that they were looking into surrogacy that was their next step and Merindah’s like I would consider surrogacy you know I was going to do it for your brother and his wife if they ever wanted another one but they never asked by the way you know and then that was it and she’s like you know I want to meet them and I want to talk to them and so and then that’s it started this this friendship between all four of us you know because I had never met Mark um which is John’s husband and I was the one that brought it up um I planted the seed.
completely not intentionally, it was just making conversation. It all just rolled along from there. Slightly different to women there bringing up the idea together. So then my next question would be, how did you find IPs?
Well, we’ll just stay with you, Kelly, for a minute there saying, so your IPs, you knew one of them because you worked together, but you hadn’t met the partner before. No, I hadn’t met Mark before. John was at my school and he was in a sort of a higher role than me, but we were just purely friends, like work colleagues, you know, like that’s sort of how it really started, but I hadn’t met Mark at all. The minute we met him, he was lovely and, you know, John and I always got on really well, but it was never something that like I would never have considered having a baby for John and Mark, like essentially employed with.
So I suppose from your journey there’d be some parallels
for people listening in terms of, you know, if we want to consider offering to our friends or family, you know, maybe carry for them. When you had that first meeting date, was the excuse, oh, let’s just meet each other’s partners. Or was it, we’d like to consider this, now let’s start talking surrogacy. Was that, I guess then how did you sort of bring it up? Ours was purely when we first all met together, it was purely just to meet and get to know each other, which I really liked because I wasn’t gonna ever be the surrogate or whatever. My eggs are too old and my body’s too old to carry anything anymore.
It was always going to be her if she wanted to, Merindah if she wanted to do it. It was just a, hey, let’s meet and let’s get to know each other. And that was it. And at our first meeting, surrogacy wasn’t even brought up. It was all about who we were as a couple and what we liked doing. And we started out like just having dinner and then dinner, we ended up at this cocktail bar having cocktails and you know, it was a really, really good night. Just friends hanging out. And I think that’s what it should be, shouldn’t it? It should be.
You’ve got a friendship, even if there was no surrogacy. So then Jayden, in terms of how you guys found IPs, was that sort of a similar thing you were looking for, you needed to make sure you could be friends with these people, regardless of it was surrogacy. And so how did, I guess Jess find the IPs and how did that process work? We went on a Play Store and downloaded Tinder for surrogates. She started off with the South Australian.
surrogate page. We went to a few like catch ups and things they do like at pubs and you know everyone just kind of gets to know each other and stuff and that didn’t really eventuate to anything. This year went on to the…
same version of like an Australian version of it. And then same thing, you talk to different couples, different bit of a meeting process on that one because it’s a lot of them were interstate, start chatting away to people and talk through messenger and stuff like that. Bader Nelson popped up one day and that was history pretty much. So, they just did the chatting thing and then they come down and met us and we got up there to meet them and bits and bobs, lots of video calls back and forth. And then, yeah, that’s when the process started. When Jess originally met them, she wasn’t old enough in Queensland laws to be a surrogate over there.
to do the egg transference in Queensland as well. So they were, it was all explained at the start, you know, they had to wait, I think it was eight or nine months before she could do a transfer from when we met them or something like that. There you go, she was 23 and she had to be 25. So it was longer than that, but they were more than happy to wait, I guess, you know, once you come across a surrogate that’s willing to do it. And
click, you know, you want to wait for that opportunity to come up. And again, I could delve into, I’ve got so many extra questions floating around in terms of, which we might get to in terms of how you build that relationship, et cetera. So you said you met them online for those listening. It’s through the Australian surrogacy community, ASC that we often talk about. And Troy, is that where Dani met hers? She was online in those groups too? Yes, it was through one of the Facebook groups, the Surrogacy of South Australia, I’m pretty sure. And she started chatting, just chatting with people. Sarah came up and they started chatting away.
says she goes, I just just found it so nice to talk to you. So personal, so relatable. And I remember that it was the first time Danni’s like, I’m going to actually catch up with Sarah. I’m going to go out for dinner, have a few drinks and that sort of thing. She goes back in about an hour and a half. It wasn’t that far. Four hours later, I’m sorry, I don’t know. I’m not sure it should be driving. I don’t reckon they had too many mobile readers. They just got along fantastically. And so that was, it was a start and that’s what Danni wanted. And that’s, and I said, I was a
I agree with that. You have to get along with whoever you intend to do this for. It shouldn’t just be pick you get to know them. I know who they are. Do we have things in common and that sort of thing. So yeah, I mean, that’s how it started. Danni started online, just chatting and, and she showed me the chats there.
endless, endless hours of just chats, chats, chats until they finally met and caught up. But then after that, it was just another date, another date, another date. Yeah. It’s a bit like that, isn’t it? It’s dating. It’s often the surrogates, you know, fall in love in some ways and almost, you know, develop that strong bond with one of the main IPs. So then that’s sort of getting the surrogate involved. We’ve talked about getting the partners involved and you guys growing that. Now, each of you all have a family and therefore children. And so then how did your children
mentioned it at different points in time and depending on the ages of your children there. So Kelly, start with you. Do you remember how old your kiddos were when surrogacy got brought up and how you told them? I think the twins were about two, so they were really young. They had no clue what was going on. Piper was…
Yeah, so she was sick. She had a bit of an idea. We just told her that, you know, mummy was going to have a baby for two people, for two guys that we really cared for and that couldn’t have a baby for their self. She always knew from the start that that baby was John and Mark’s baby. It was never going to be, you know, our baby. And it’s funny because like people would see Merindah when she was pregnant. They’d be like, oh, what are you and you? And Piper’s like, yeah, that’s John and Mark’s baby. Like, why do you even care? Like.
She just had the biggest attitude about like in a good way, you know, I was just like, please don’t ask for us to have a baby of our own because we are completely done. That was my only real worry that, but she handled it pretty well. And like I said, the tweens were just too young to really know anything else. So I found that with my kids too, I think when they first met Matt and Brendan, my kids were two and four. And it’s that idea of you need an egg and a seed to make a baby, a girl’s tummy to grow it. And Matt and Brendan are going to be two dads, so they can’t grow a baby. So I’m just going to do that for them. And kids take that on. Jayden, then what about your kids?
similar age to mine. Do you remember how you explained it to them and how the kids took it on? Yeah they were, Laura Lucy was only two and Charlotte was one so they were still pretty young so they’ve kind of just grown up with the fact that mom’s had another baby in her belly. It’s a bit different now with the possibility of like a sibling journey. It was quite funny the other day Charlotte went to school telling her friends that my mom’s gonna have a baby and the people are like oh you’re gonna have a new brother or sister? She goes no it’s gonna be a cousin. They’re like…
How does that work? How can you go with your own cousin? I mean my cousin, that doesn’t work. It’s a new cousin, and they’re uncles and…
They speak to Amalia like, you know, that’s their cousin and we’re there, we’re like auntie and uncle to her. So then they’ve really just grown up with it and just got on board with it really. They haven’t, they’re not upset that the older one drops it, I want a brother every now and then, but that’s not happening. So they got each other and then they got plenty of cousins and things like that. So. And then these extra cousins, like a tummy cousin. And, and I think that kind of sums up the language then that you’re using in your household, that’s cousins. And, and that’s a nice way to connect it there. And then Troy, in your house with the three kids, I’m trying to think back to how old they would have
when you guys first started this journey nearly? Yeah the eldest would have been oh gee 13 I reckon and then 11 and the youngest.
be nine, nine-ish coming on ten. So they have a different understanding to the little kids, don’t they? So they are a bit more aware. How did the discussions go in your household? It came down to it’s not that we decided to do it. We sat them down as like, this is what we’re thinking of doing. You know, we’re not going to just sprint on them. Oh, by the way, your mum’s going to have a baby in nine months. We explained to them, this is what surrogacy is, this is what we want to do. But you have to understand, like it wasn’t we didn’t just sprint on them and they never met Ben or Sarah. We had dates together as a family with them and we’d go to the rural.
late show, we’d go to the beach, we’d go for picnics, just so they knew who Ben and Sarah were. So when we say, look, this is what we want to do for Ben and Sarah. Do you understand? The eldest two, yep, they got it. Youngest, you could have asked them an hour later and they’d go, what baby? What are you talking about? You know, that’s what 10 year olds are like.
They’re memory like a fish, so. Yes, they are. Cool, and I think what you’re all saying is kids just get it. It’s sometimes the adults that have more fears about these things. Kids just are quite accepting of that. So that might be the kids that are accepting, but what about extended family?
For all of you, I know for mine, it was always the families of the intended parents, they were always so excited and happy and so thankful to me doing what I was doing. It was my family that had concerns that pregnancy brings risks and things like that. Kel, what about you? Did you have any concerns or negativity from extended family? There were definitely concerns. It wasn’t negativity, but you’re right. It was just concerns about like, what if this happened and health concerns and things like that. My family, they live out in parks and they really didn’t really weigh in on it at all. They’re like, this is your decision.
and you guys do what you need to do and we’ll just support you in any way. I think because Merindah was carrying the baby, her parents were probably a little bit more just concerned about the pregnancy and what could go wrong and if something happened. And once everything had sort of started and she was pregnant.
because they met the boys too before anything had even happened. We made sure that all of our families had met the LIPs and, you know, that was just through barbecues and family play dates and things like that. So that we really made sure that we all bonded and we knew each other. And it wasn’t just this like, we’re going to have a baby for two men. We don’t really know that well at all. So and their families were amazing. The IPs families were really welcoming. And every time we did have a big gathering or get together, you know, it was we tried to combine all the families together.
It was not. Yeah, definitely concerns about the medical side of things. We did have a few hiccups, you know, we’re all still here and alive to tell the story. So that’s a win, I guess. It is. And I like to hear what your team did there. And I think quite a few teams do aim for that is getting people to know each other. So the surrogates and their family getting to know the intent of the IPs and also then the surrogates partner and family getting to know the IPs family and the village that they’re creating there. Jaden, was that something that your team got to do being interstate with their concerns as well
family? Yeah, not so much on my side. Jess’s mum was a bit put off when she told it. More so that she was she thought that it was going to be like her eggs and stuff like that but once we explained to her that it’s not our eggs, this baby is not ours essentially, she’s just the oven. She didn’t want to give away a genetic child.
from her family type thing. So once we explained that to her, she was, she got on board. My mom, she’s the same as me. We just roll with the punches and just deal with what comes out. She’s pretty easy going. Same thing as like they come down and it was, it was almost like you’re meeting the girlfriend’s parents, but they come down and then when they come down from Queensland to here for a weekend, it was during March, something like that. And then they come down, we had a big barbecue and all the family came over and you know, they got to meet all the family and stuff like that. And we went out and did, we did stuff on our own as well with them, but they got to meet everyone down here.
two years before she could transfer anyway. So there’s plenty of opportunities for them to meet and they come to Adelaide a couple of times. Yeah, so build that relationship with that and also the family and they get on board of it. And then nowadays it’s nothing, it’s just like they’re part of the family all along, there’s no difference. Great. And I think I’m sure for people listening who are at the beginning, you have those concerns. This is an enormous project, is surrogacy. Cause if you’re saying to like a brand new surrogate and partner, you’re eventually gonna introduce these people to your extended family. That’s probably very overwhelming in the beginning to think.
I thought this was just going to be a thing we did. We say it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So we’re talking, this is over a long period of time. You get to know them first and then you bring them in. Troy, did that happen in your team as well? Any concerns, but then also the family getting to meet the RPs? On my side of the family, I don’t have a large family, very small. No issue on my side. Danni’s biggest concern was her dad. She was convinced, he’s not gonna lie, he’s gonna get upset, he’s gonna be upset, he’s gonna be upset. And then eventually, she just sat him down. This is what.
I wanna do, what do you think? And he probably had the same deer in the headlights look at me, like, what, you were doing what? It’s not like it was an instant eye-hate cake, but over time, he certainly warmed up to it, that’s for sure. But it wasn’t an instant, that’s his daughter. His biggest concern was it’s still a medical thing. Giving birth, it doesn’t mean it’s any safer because you’re a surrogate, it’s still running the same risk.
Why would I not care about my daughter not coming into harm’s way? So yeah. They’re very standard concerns, aren’t they? Then I suppose we move on to, you know, every team goes through the counseling and the legals. And of course we can unpack some of those if people have specific questions about that. You’re engaging with your IVF clinic and you’re getting ready for the.
embryo transfer, which we often just call a transfer as you’ve been hearing people say there. I might actually just go to Troy’s team on that one because so the terminology is gestational surrogates are about 90% of us where we it’s not our egg, we’re just the oven, so to speak.
So the egg comes from the intended mother or an egg donor, if it’s two guys often. So Troy’s team started out as gestational where there was, think about three embryos that were the genetic embryos of Ben and Sarah, and then it went to traditional, perhaps we’ll just pause and talk about your team for that. How did that crossover journey go? Did that add any extra complexities? You know what? It was actually very quick in the sense that after their final attempt failed, we were devastated. All of us were, you know, couldn’t believe it didn’t work. And it was even.
After we left the doctors to go home and on the way home, Danni’s like, I reckon we should try traditional. I’m like, and at the end of the day, once again, it’s up to you, buddy, your egg, we’ll run it past them, you know, and see if they like the idea as well. And, but it was actually quite a quick transition from going to traditional. I don’t know, we were so focused really, I guess, on what our goal was and what we wanted to do. And if we could try, why not? And so then it did work. So we’ll stay on you for a minute there in terms of the pregnancy.
How was that overall? Was it a fairly smooth pregnancy or was it tricky? Like I mentioned before, I’ve never had any biological children of mine. Never been through a birth, never had to raise a baby. Never had to do anything. So to actually be with a pregnant woman for nine months was an experience, I will say. And it didn’t matter how many classes I took. No, I was still.
shocked. At the same time, I loved every moment of being able to help Danni through. Did you have to pick up the pieces on some extra work around the house or dealing with mood swings and things like that? Oh, the mood swings I could handle, that was fine. I was happy to help out. But at the same time, the one benefit we had is we, especially her extended family, her mum and her dad, they were all willing to help out whenever they could. Absolutely. So I still got to, I still had to work full time. So I couldn’t, I couldn’t go to every single appointment. I’d go to every appointment I could, especially the important ones. But it was helpful that, you know, her mum would help out.
and laws with our friends would help out. If you’ve got a good team behind you, you certainly get it done. Excellent. Well, it sounds like you built up that good team together. And it was a local team, so that helped. Whereas Jaden and Kelly’s team, you were either interstate or long distance. So Jaden, how was Jess’s pregnancy in comparison to her own for your own keeper children and, and obviously not having as much support because the IPs are interstate. How did the pregnancy go? If you can imagine best pregnancy, everything runs smoothly.
This is how far away that pregnancy is. Big gap, big gap. Pregnancy, COVID, everything was complete opposite to our children. It couldn’t be any more different if you tried. But the doctors even in the hospital, once you had the baby, they said that happens a lot with an egg that is not your genetics at all. They said it is pretty common because your body’s reacting to it not being yours. So that is a lot of the case in the time.
when that happens. The pregnancy was this role with the punches, attend as many appointments as I can to support her and the ways that I did devour two children. And yeah, then bursting through COVID was another, is there a burst question? There’s a burst question. We won’t go too far into that, but it wasn’t there in the tone. But yeah, the pregnancy itself is much of a blur now. It’s a few years ago now. You remember the end of it and the start of it and the middle of it’s just a blur of the belly getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And then next minute there’s a baby here.
Yes, I think the partners of surrogates are often the unsung heroes of surrogacy because it’s your partners who…
want to be the surrogates and you come along for the ride and you’re there on the day-to-day basis with them being pregnant in your household and being extra tired and well done to all of you. What about you, Kel, in your household? How was Merindah’s pregnancy? She carried Piper and I carried our twins. Piper’s pregnancy was a dream pregnancy. So she’s like, oh, I love being pregnant and I’m so good at pregnancy and whatever. And pregnancy was pretty opposite to Piper’s. I’m always a glass half full type of person. And I was like, you were able to carry the pregnancy and you were able to give birth.
I guess then she sort of does. Merindah ended up with gestational diabetes. That wasn’t fun for anyone, including me, because it meant I had to cook two sets of dinners because she had to eat really early and then I had to feed the kids. And we definitely do pick up a lot more of the extra workload and things that comes with that. But we do it because we want to help out our friends and we want to see, my wife was really passionate about doing this. She wanted to do it. And I want to support her in the things that she wanted to do. But the pregnancy, definitely the gestational diabetes. And then right at the end, she got preeclampsia.
So got put into hospital to say like the IPs were when that happened, they kicked in and they’re like right what can we do to help you and I was also HSC marking and doing a whole stack of things and they made like helped us by like hiring cleaners like saying can we get meals delivered for you you know just little things that meant a lot to sort of help us and I found that support you know really really helpful and I think they ended up coming down a little bit earlier too. So by long distance they live in Sydney, we live on the central coast so it’s about an hour and.
hour and 15 minutes. So it’s not as long as other teams have to do it. They came and when Brenda was in hospital, they came up a bit earlier and they would come here and help me with the kids during the witching hour, which they got to see was, you know, sort of like, you know, they took my kids trick-or-treating so I could work and things like that. So they were really helpful and hands-on during that process. And, but it was really hard watching Brenda go through this hard part of the pregnancy. Like, and I did start to get a little bit worried, like, you know, the pre-clamps, you know, and that can have…
complications down the track and things like that. I started to worry a little bit, but I’m like, I can’t let her see that because then that’s gonna trigger her and we birthed and we got there. Yes, and I think that’s something to remember that surrogates or any woman is always older each time she has another pregnancy. So although they might’ve had a pretty smooth pregnancy like I did with my two and Merindah did, had a great pregnancy. Well, you’re now X number of years older.
And so things are going to get harder. The partners are often wearing some of that burden and hopefully some of the IPs can help out in ways either they’re physically near or can pay for some of the supports. But then as you say, Kelly, that leads into birth. So we’ll stay with you then. How was the birth? And obviously I know for all of you, you were all there. Obviously there’s longterm after birth, but how do you remember those first sort of few days, few weeks?
together after how was the birth in those few weeks? Well, Merindah ended up being induced because she had preeclampsia. So that was, she didn’t want to do that. She wanted to try and birth, you know, without that assistance. You know, we were in COVID as well. So we were lucky that the boys were able to even be in the room because, you know, we were having to plan scenarios of if another COVID outbreak happened, like what would the space look like without them being in it? And, you know, I just hoped with all my heart that they could be there because Marinda, you know, we’d always talked about that I was the support person that if something happened, she needed me in the room.
to help her birth the baby. And the boys were really like, they were fully supportive of that. You just want them to be there to see their baby be born. You know, like, so we were able to do that. Merindah was able to have a water birth, which was good. That’s what she wanted. The cord was sort of wrapped around Josie’s neck at the start. So that sort of caused her to be sort of taken off a little bit. So that, I think that initial bonding that.
Merindah had envisioned didn’t really happen to the extent that she wanted. But once she birthed the baby, my concern wasn’t with that baby, mine was with Marinda. I was like making sure that she was okay, that she was supported, that she had somebody there. Like she wanted Josie and I just wanted her to be safe. And that was the birth. Josie got sort of taken away because she needed to check up some things like that. So the boys went with her and I stayed with Marinda. And then, you know, we all sort of reconvened back as soon as she was able to sort of walk and get up on her feet. So that was all.
all nice and then like I think post birth it was mixed emotions for everybody like I was just sort of wow this is we’ve done this right it’s coming to an end like it’s kind of finishing now and now I was sort of looking forward to not the end of it but you know that part being over the boys rented a place like 10 minutes from our house so that Ritika could go and see the baby every day they came over to us their family was up they made sure that that Josie met our family as well and that our kids had one-on-one time with her
This was the whole reason that we went through all this in the first place. And that period was nice. Like having them close. And then when they left Brenda really struggled with the baby sort of being gobs, the whole head, heart hormones type thing, but they were really good in terms of keeping touch and FaceTime in all the time. And you know, we still keep in touch. So we’ve still got a really good relationship, which I’m, that’s the main thing that I’m really proud of is that we’ve able to maintain it as a really nice friendship is what it started out as a friendship and it will always be. You know, that friendship.
to hear that, you know, there’s some, can be some tough times around birth and post-birth, but then with some time, and because each of the bubs there, I know are, you know, one, two sort of ages or more, that helps to settle things down there. So, Jade, in your team, I know birthed at the peak of the beginning of COVID, and so that’s an unusual situation there. So hopefully, you know, if a sibling journey does, you know, eventuate, things will be different second time around. So how was the birth and then those times post-birth, I guess, in the lead up to the guys going back to Queensland? Yes, the lead up was the start of COVID,
up down. They were going to come down a few weeks prior to birth to support Jess and do the stuff that we were all talked about the whole way through the pregnancy. And then they threw that whole two-week quarantine thing in the soup. So they had to come down and they came down and up it was three weeks prior and two weeks after that they were stuck in a little Airbnb that they rented for the time they were down here. So we were doing visits and having driveway dinners and things like that prior to them. We can still see them. They can still see the belly and you know, things like that. And then once that all happened, the
The hospital then rules changed where you could have no one in the room at all, no one except for one support person.
The whole way along was it is their baby, but it’s Jess having the baby. So at the end of the day, someone’s going to be there for Jess. And that was always going to be me. That was kind of my, my no movement thing. If it’s one person, it’s me. It’s, it’s, she needs someone there to support her. Like, I’ll do the baby side of things for him as well. So the plan, Cesarean had a date set. So that was all, it was all went down sweet like that. You know, we, we met up with him in the car park at the lower map, just before she went in and got some photos and they said they’re good buyers. And yeah, we’ll speak to you soon. They went off.
breakfast somewhere and we went into the hospital and started the process and that all happened. The cesarean went ahead as planned. As soon as the baby was born, we have got like a little group chat. I just said congratulations daddy’s in there like as soon as
baby was born. They didn’t know what it was. They didn’t, we managed to talk them into not finding out the sex of the baby. Um, so I took a bunch of photos on my phone too, which I shared with them later, later down the track, once they’d met Amalia. Birth itself was alright. Amalia was, because she was such a big baby, she was having a bit of trouble breathing. So they took her off down to the Nikuta just to check her out for a bit. So after she was in the room for about a half hour or so, and they took her away, we didn’t see her until we got back into the room pretty much. Like she went to recovery and then back to the room. Then Amalia came back. Um, I cut
cord on their behalf just so they said yeah go for it so let’s do that again which is cool and yeah back to the room and then Amalia came back we’re with her for about 15-20 minutes or so um and luckily enough we managed to talk the hospital into or prior to that to let them you know meet the baby so they got half an hour together to meet the baby and then they got an hour separate and then they had to leave they couldn’t come back until she was out of hospital so they
come in, baby’s all wrapped up, didn’t look like a boy or a girl, funnily enough. So she’s in a little, in a little cot and they come in and they unwrap their baby and they got all videos and that’s how they found out the sex of the baby. And then they named her, I think they named her pretty much straight away because they had two namesets. So they named her and then they got cuddles and all that. And they split up, one went out to the car and sat in the car for an hour. Then they did the swap all COVID times. And then they went off home after that. And I stayed with Jess for a while at the hospital. Um, and she was in there for.
24 hours, just a normal public system down here. Um, and they boot you out. So I went back to the next morning to help her sort out all this stuff. And they were then also came down when she got told she can leave the hospital. They then came and they met her at the doors of the hospital pretty much and took delivery of their baby essentially. Um, and yeah, they, they went off with her to the, to the Airbnb. We went home. Um, Jess also expressed colostrum.
a lot of it. So Amali was on classroom in the hospital for the whole time. We actually expressed enough to feed her the whole time we were there. And then once we got home, she was still expressing that.
obviously changed over to breast milk. And so the first, uh, so they stayed in Adelaide for nine days after she was born and just, just fed her solely on breast milk the whole time she was here. And it also pumped and expressed it and froze it. So they went home with like five or six liters of breast milk on the airplane, as well as her living the first nine, 10 days of her life on solid breast milk. Right. Um, which is a good start for her life. And then once they went home with her, they, they kind of, you know, slowly weaned her off the breast milk on the formula, cause there was talks of express posting it up there and things like that.
get a bit hardened and Jess ended up doing breast milk donations to local ladies because she still wanted to.
Express and then did it through the Red Cross as well. And then she went back to work and it just got too hard. So I kind of leveled that off and then. Well, that’s covered lots of things there. We’ve had a couple of births there. We’ve had a caesarean, we’ve had a water birth. We’ve had a variety of, you know, the surrogate and partner being prepared to care for the child in worst case scenario times. And then hearing about breast milk is can happen in some teams or not. So then Troy, to finish up sort of the birth stories, how was birth for your team? And then how was everything in the first few weeks
of birth during COVID was wow, just an experience. But we were lucky enough that we had enough conversation with the staff at Flinders Medical that we were given a room where Ben and Sarah could be with us in the room at the same time while Danni was giving birth. We went in one day but you know everything was taking too long so like just go home for the night, come back next morning. So I stayed at Ben and Sarah’s place and went with them the next morning and went through most of the day. And like I said once again I’ve never had experience with births.
whole pregnancy thing and so you know from my experience with what I was told you know with birthing lessons and so forth they said you know well once the baby turns you know you you might be deemed for the long haul it might take you know you might be around for hours and hours and hours you know brace yourself for that i’m like okay no worries relax and i’m like all right so we’re going to start taking photos 10 minutes later Danni screaming where’s Troy where’s Troy
And actually five minutes later, there’s Evie. It was exactly. So they lied to me in those birthing classes. They said, oh, I wasn’t a didn’t. It was a wonderful experience. It was so great that Ben and Sarah got to be there. They got to cut the cord, be there for every first photo of her, getting the first wave for, you know, the nurse looking up and checking out the baby, making sure she was all good. And Danni stayed there for the night and Ben and Sarah stayed for the night in the hospital in another room. I just went home and made sure my kids were OK and made sure they were all good and everything’s good.
next morning. It was an awesome experience and what amazed me was the staff at the hospital were just so amazed because it’s incredible that in a hospital there’s still a lot of nurses and doctors who are not used to surrogacy, the idea of it. Yeah. Because I know, who’s the parent? Who’s the parent? I’m like, well, I’m the partner of the woman giving birth for these two. And they’re like, hmm, what, what’s going on? This makes no sense to me.
Yeah, it was amazing. I’m sure it’s a lot better now, because I know when we first started looking into it, we were told originally, no, no, you can’t have, especially with COVID, they were like, no, you can’t have anyone else in the room. You can’t have anyone else in the room. And eventually it got to the point where they said, no, it’s okay, you can have Ben and Sarah in the room with you. And I’m so grateful for that, because the photos we’ve got of those two with Danni and Evie, it’s just awesome.
It’s just awesome, it really is. Well, it sounds like it was a great experience for all of you there, and that, which needs me on to the next question, that often surrogates usually experience a high after, you know, birthing a child for their friends. How do the partners of surrogates feel? So Troy, it sounds like you were pretty chuffed and excited to have done this. You know, all the fears and all the doubts and all that sort of stuff. The moment you see Ben and Sarah holding their kid, I was like, yeah, it’s so worth it, it’s so worth it. It really was. And so for these people who are initially strangers in your life,
to then become friends and see them be parents, thanks to your team effort, pretty cool feeling. Well, they’re not strangers to us. They’re some of our great friends, you know. We’re going to their place Sunday to set up their Christmas tree with Evie. So that’s the sort of stuff we do. And I was at your wedding recently. Yes, you’re in. And you’re one of the flower girls. Evie was one of our flower girls, the ring girls at our wedding. And that was awesome.
So yeah, these IPs become friends in our lives. So what about you? So Jayden for you, how was it seeing the guys become dads and then, you know, the friendship after? Yeah, it was more, just more proud of Jess and what she had created really, you know, I know there’s a lot of talk, yeah, the egg donuts and all that do a lot.
I’m not going to play down on what egg donors, the part they play. Yeah, growing someone a nearly 10 pound baby is certainly a big feat. I wouldn’t be able to do it myself. And then just watching them after, you know, unwrap the baby and find out what sex is and then meeting their daughter for the first time and just seeing them nowadays with her. That is she is a well-traveled baby. She is so spoiled. She’s been to more countries than I have, and she’s two and a half years old.
just come back from Melbourne, funnily enough, as another holiday. And just, yeah, just, just more just proud of Jess and what she made. And, you know, you can look back on anything in your life and say, look, you created a family, you know, and COVID kind of put a downer on a lot of things, but you can’t take the fact away that she’s created a life, you know, for someone else and to give people, to men who obviously can’t have babies, to have a daughter and…
to keep them in check for the rest of their life now. It’s a, it’s pretty special things. It is, it’s the gift of life, nothing bigger. And it sounds like the overwhelming theme there is, is pride in your partners there. Kelly, for you too then, I would imagine a sense of pride that you felt in Marinda. How did it feel for you seeing your friends become dads? Yeah, look, it was really nice in our lead ups and our.
conversations and you know catch-ups and dinners and things that we had like we’d really heard from them how hard it was to find someone to be a surrogate and you know like the cost of having to go overseas and things like that because that’s what they were potentially looking at. I’m immensely proud of my wife for doing what she did like she can get in her own head a lot and the most herby crunchy person who just feels everything she feels all the feels she’s so emotional and that was one of my big worries was going through the surrogacy like how is it going to impact
took every barrier that was thrown against her and just said I’m just gonna get over this and I’m just gonna do it and to her credit like it was just
so empowering watching her do this for two of our friends. And you know, when she birthed that baby for them, it was really, like I said, it was really nice to see them have their baby and everything, but I was crying because she was alive and she was safe and you know, like she’d just done this thing for our friends and had given them the one thing that they just couldn’t have on their own, you know? So I was super proud of that. And still to this day, we always acknowledge all of the work and what she’s achieved and things like that. And she’s still kicking goals. Like she’s studying nursing now
of things that she’s really doing and I think has been driven from this surrogacy journey, you know, like she fell in love with some of our midwives that we had and they like the medical side of things has inspired her to go on and be a nurse and you know to care for other women and you know her compassion that she has and like that nurturing that’s just it’s just part of her and that’s why she’s going to be an amazing nurse. It’s just…
her and this experience, it’s really bonded everyone together. And the boys, when they first took Josie in their arms, I hope it was amazing to watch that. Just to see Merindah at the end of it was, that was the big highlight for me was, you know, that she’d done this and that she was alive. And, but I was the same when she birthed our baby, like I cried, I’m not a crier.
But seeing Piper be born was like, you know, it was just amazing. Cause I never wanted to actually have any kids either. Like I would never wanted to carry the babies and I ended up carrying twins. So, but after watching her go through that, that’s what sort of prompted me to want to do it. But yeah, she’s, she’s amazing. She’s a warrior for sure. And I think that’s some of the extra things that can come out of surrogacy, isn’t it?
that the women sign up to be surrogates, but then there’s this strength that comes out of them and for Merindah possibly a career change direction because of this. So lots of things can come out of this for the surrogates and for their partners and their families. The next question I had there, I think we’ve kind of already answered as we go along, the question is, do you still see the parents and the child? And I’m pretty sure anybody listening can already hear the answer is yes to that. I’m sure people at the beginning wonder that, you know.
And that’s a question I still get as a surrogate. When I tell people I was, almost the first question I get asked is, oh, do you still see them? I think people that are new to surrogacy think that you might not. But as anybody can hear from tonight, from all of us, yes, you do keep in touch. Of course, the intensity of the project ends and the amount of contact might diminish a little bit, but you’ve got a friendship there. So you keep in touch like you would with friends. And so then is there anything anybody would do differently? Troy, is there anything that you can think of? Oh.
To be honest, no, because it was the end result that was most important when we got there, you know? There’s this beautiful girl, Evie, who was at my wedding, gave me a big hug, and so, I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. And there’s, she’s got two great.
parents who deserve to have such a lovely child and one thing I’d probably mention is just their extended families They don’t have to but they they thank us all the time. They give us Christmas presents I mean, we gave you you know, we gave you a granddaughter that you don’t need to give us But they’re like no no, no, you don’t understand. It means so much to us You’re affecting the whole family extended family. So it’s an awesome feeling I am so looking forward to this Sunday to set up a Christmas tree with Evie
and to watch her face light up with the excitement of Christmas. And you get to experience the joy of watching a little kid grow up and not have to raise them. That’s it.
That’s it. Satan, you too, you get, I think, was it the second birthday or something you went up for earlier in this year and you got… Yeah, we went up for her first birthday. That’s how we met the extended family on her side because we couldn’t do it because of COVID. But we did meet all of the both sides of the family at her first birthday and christening as well. We did go up there not long after she was born for a little holiday to see her, she’s just a couple months old, but same thing, COVID again. You couldn’t travel some places in there. Some of the people had COVID and you couldn’t come down to meet the baby, see this and that.
you to change differently. There’s one thing that we’re doing in us.
sibling journey now is taking on the services of a counselor to be kind of like a mediator to bring up some things that might be a bit of a tough talking points or things that you want to put in place for the duration of pregnancy. We found there’s a little bit more of a distance thing. Like when you live close, you can catch up and have a coffee and explain things, but right, there’s only so much you can type in a message and everyone reads messages different ways. So you might mean it one way and they take it or you take it completely different way.
can talk to separately and then come together and word things a bit better. So we’re taking that on board for the siblings project now. So we’ve had a couple of talks already with her and you know, it just smoothed things out a lot easier. There’s no, because I had to play the bad guy a few times during the first pregnancy, but things weren’t going the way that Jess wanted them to and I just, I got a pretty straight shirt, I just rang up and said, look, this needs to happen now. You know, this is a non-negotiable.
So at least if that third party, it won’t kind of get to that stage. Right. I think Jess has got organized with once it all happens and everything’s, you know, running smoothly to maybe do monthly catch-ups. Even if there’s nothing wrong, just to catch up, just have a chat and just, you know, separately and then together. Just so that’s there to, as a, as to fall back on if anything does kind of go a bit wrong, a bit pear-shaped so it doesn’t ruin the relationship with what you’ve already created. So I think that’s excellent. And that’s great to hear the learnings from the first journey. And so if anybody’s
brand new listening, you have to have mandatory counseling and legals before you get pregnant, but you legally don’t have to have any ongoing counseling, which pregnancy is often the hardest part of it all. I think that’s a great strategy to have in terms of having some counseling booked in or planned for during the pregnancy quite regularly, sometimes individual and sometimes as a team. And it’s prevention rather than cure, isn’t it? Just knowing that you’ve got that session coming up either as a vent for the surrogate on her own or just the team to come together. And even before the session,
what you’d like to talk about and then it’s their job to navigate those conversations. I think also another one that she was talking about was because it’s interstate it might be different obviously different people live in the same state booking in more frequent travel to see each other and be more part of the pregnancy. I know you’re not expected to be here every weekend if you’re interstate it’s a nine month pregnancy it’s there’s a good opportunity come down three or four times during then so if you come down for a trip while you’re down on that trip talk about your next one whether you go up there or they come down here just just to make them more
COVID ruined all that for us in the first one so I’m not going to play dead too much down in it but having that in place so they’re more part of the creation of their child really. It’s great advice and that was some advice I got from somebody else and took on I think for my mental health too I can be quite an anxious person. When we’re catching up, booking in almost while we’re catching up, when the next one is. So Matt and I would often get our calendars out at the same time and book it in and then for me mentally I knew when it was coming, I knew they cared about me it wasn’t just
some great tips there. So what about for your team? Kelly, anything you’d do differently if you could do it again? Oh, look, ours went, like I said, we had some pretty good processes in place. We’re not gonna do it again, purely because our IPs don’t want a sibling. But even if they did, I would be hesitant to do it again only because I’m being selfish now. Like I want the time with my family. Like my kids are at that age now where I feel like they need us wholly and solely. So not because it was a negative experience or anything like that, just us being selfish as a family now.
you know, which I think we need to do for our family as well. I think we had some pretty good processes in place, you know, like boys and I had a separate chat for when I needed to say to them like, hey, Merindah’s feeling really lonely, you need to call her and they would do that. Or if there was a problem or something and we talked about all the money because Merindah hates money and didn’t want to talk about it. And so if there was something that we needed, the boys would be like, just tell us and we’ll get it for you or we’ll sort it out. Don’t birth during COVID. If you can possibly.
to avoid the pandemic. Yes, no more global pandemics. No more. And what Jayden said, I think is really important for the surrogates. And I know that Merindah got extra counselling at after the birth and the boys were more than happy to.
provide that service for her. They just said, we’ll pay, you go. You don’t have to tell us how often you go or whatever. There’s anything that we need, you need us to do, like let us know. And so I thought that was really good for them to do that. But then, you know, that was always something that we talked about. Like in our counseling sessions that we had established that if there’s something that needed to be said, it just got said. Like we didn’t want anyone to feel like that you couldn’t say something or it all boils down to having that friendship and trust and that really solid relationship going
to the surrogacy which we still have which I love and like it was really sweet. Our dog got run over like two weeks ago by someone in our neighborhood that didn’t stop like they even saw the whole thing you know my eight-year-old witnessed the whole thing and she was devastated and you know the boys had messaged me and said you know Alfie was our dog’s name he was with Marina through the whole pregnancy so he sat on her belly and he was her protector and you know like when she fell asleep on the couch was about to drop coffee on her belly like he nudged it with his head you know
stuff and he was her little therapy dog as she calls him even though he’s not a therapy dog he was really bad that way but she she thought he was good and they sent like this really nice little glass picture of Alfie like to for her to remember and you know those types of little things that they still do um
are really nice, you know, that we’ve still got that real strong bond with them. And so advice, I guess, is just maintain that relationship with your, with your surrogates and the families. We still see John and Mark’s family all the time and you’re right. Like they, Troy, they do constantly say like, thank you for the gift and everything you’ve done. And, you know, it’s really, it’s nice to hear that, but I’m always like, you know, but
The family are just so lovely and it’s not a chore to ever catch up with them or anything like that. And you know, they regularly come and see us like it’s our birthday party in a week and a bit and they’re going to come and bring Josie and so that’ll be nice. And you know, at that time, we’ll probably set up a time in the new year to catch up. We were lucky. We were one of the positive ones. I think that had a good experience, had little bumps in the road, but we never hit like any Mount Everest in the middle, I guess. So it was nice. Well, that’s wonderful. I think that each of your journeys, as you had bumps,
of course. I think it’s really great to hear some positive stories and that again for anybody at the beginning your team may potentially carry for people you didn’t previously know or people you do know. So if it’s new people you’re going to have friends for life out of this is what you can hear from tonight. Have ongoing catch-ups and get to meet their family too. So you’ve got to pick people that you do.
like and want to be friends with and of course that’ll grow over time and the people that you do carry for be it friends or family it’s going to deepen that friendship and relationship we hope. I don’t know I see it as like going on a Contiki tour or doing a grand final together or a school musical or something climbing Everest. What you’re going to do as a team you’re never going to do with anybody else and you’re going to have this shared amazing experience together and yes it’ll end but then you’ll always have this thing this bond that you’ve done together and it’s going to
that you’ve already got with people I’m sure you’d all agree with that. Absolutely. Thank you for joining us and I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did. If you’d like to see other recordings with photos head over to our YouTube channel to watch other webinars. You can head to surr for more information about surrogacy.
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