Episode 4 – Allison – surrogate
Allison is a single mum living in Coffs Harbour, who birthed her third surrogate baby September 2022. Baby Charlie and his two dads also live locally, and the families knew each other socially before starting this journey. Allison has previously birthed two boys as a gestational surrogate for other families in QLD, in 2013 and 2014, as well as helping 5 families through egg donation. She also helps run a support group for egg donors and surrogates on the NSW mid-north coast.
This episode was recorded in March 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.
Thanks for watching!
Welcome to Surrogacy Australia’s podcast series. I’m your host, Anna McKie, and my aim is to raise the level of awareness of surrogacy through these conversations. This podcast is a recording from a webinar that I host, and you can find more details about those and upcoming dates on our website at surrogacyaustralia.org. The webinars are free, go for an hour, and will take you through how surrogacy works in Australia. You can ask questions, typing them in anonymously if you prefer.
and you hear from a co-host who has navigated surrogacy in Australia, either a surrogate, a gay dad or a straight mum. This episode, recorded in March 2023, features Allison. Allison is a single mum living in Coffs Harbour who birthed her third surrogate baby in September 2022. Baby Charlie and his dads also lived locally and the families knew each other socially before starting this journey.
Allison has previously birthed two boys as a gestational surrogate for other families in Queensland in 2013 and 2014, as well as helping five families through egg donation. She also runs a support group for egg donors and surrogates on the New South Wales Mid North Coast. I’m sure you’ll agree we packed a lot into this episode and you can hear that Allison is a passionate advocate for surrogacy. We discussed her previous two journeys and the lessons learnt.
including deciding to carry for local IPs and having them build a relationship with her children too. Tough conversations for all teams include termination of a pregnancy, finding out the gender and any topic to do with money. Hear how Allison accessed maternity leave and all team members getting the paid parental leave from the government. I hope you enjoy the episode. We’ve got Allison joining us tonight as our co-host and we’ve got some lovely photos to work through here.
Looks like you’re pregnant in this photo, Allison. So we’ll go from that point in your journey onwards. Tell us who’s in this photo. Was there a particular occasion? No, I think we just had some family visiting and we were very pregnant and very excited and took some photos. So the dads, they had some family visiting and we just wanted some photos to remember it. Beautiful. Pretty special. Yeah. And then this is more official maternity photography? Absolutely. That was our very belated, I think I was like.
37 weeks back when I’d finally finished up at work and I was like I didn’t organize photos I was gonna do it this time. And does it bring you, what emotions do you feel looking back at these photos? I just love this photo, this is that’s why I sent it to you, it’s my absolute favorite, just the relationship that we all have is just, it’s the best, it’s beautiful. It’s captured there, it looks like a lot of fun and joy in your time. Oh we’re all idiots, it’s wonderful.
And then we get to the big day. So, Birth of Charlie here. Talk us through these photos. Yeah, so the first photo, I just absolutely love that. So I had a beautiful water birth. I’m a midwife as well. So I, you know, it was wonderful. I had my midwife, I had my student midwife. But in this photo on the very edge, there’s also very, very special, my beautiful 13 year old daughter, who got to come to the birth and was very involved in the whole thing.
and it was just beautiful. So I just had Charlie, he’s still connected by the cord here, holding him, and his dads have come around, and I love, like you’d mentioned with one of the other photos before, I love that everyone’s got their hands on Charlie. Like everybody’s just there, and we’re all just, it was just beautiful. So the dad that’s not wearing a face mask, he actually caught Charlie in the water birth and lifted him up to me, and it was just, it was perfect. It was just divine. And that was part of the plan as a team to work out? That was the plan, yeah, yeah.
And it was just, everything went to plan. It was beautiful. And there was, as my obstetrician friend who came in to do my suturing said, she’s like, there’s so much estrogen in this room. So much oxytocin, so much love. It was beautiful. I think that’s what I’ve heard from a lot of other surrogates that everybody’s so joyful at the birth. It was beautiful. So much love bringing these little people into this world. Yeah. And then there’s just the photo. So just after this, when the cordon stopped pulsing, cause I’m a midwife very into all the, you know, non-intervention.
We cut the cord and I got to say goodbye to him and then hand him to his dads. And that was a special moment? A very conscious goodbye and it was beautiful. Yeah. But as we know, not goodbye like… No, well then the second photo is after my placenta was out and we cut a lot on the bed. So I got him back for a little while. Beautiful. And then I think for some other photos here, this is quite a group here. This is some of your kids.
Yeah, so the two outside is my two teenagers and this was pretty much when we were getting ready to go home. So I had a beautiful birth and I went home five hours later. So this is everyone saying goodbye before we all parted ways until the next day. Indeed and so for your daughter she wanted to be a part of the birth.
and experience? She hadn’t been 100% sure. She was staying at her dad’s the night before and I sent a message to her dad saying that I was going to the hospital and he woke her up and she decided to come in. So that was even my ex-husband was still very supportive and involved. So he brought our daughter in and then a friend brought my son in later after all the messy bits were done. He didn’t want to see that. And I think that’s another example of the relationship you built with your IPs that they were comfortable too for you to have your support people, your daughter. And one of the photos I don’t have up there.
because it was probably a little bit more personal and I wasn’t ready to share it publicly, was just my daughter holding Charlie and one of the dads sitting next to them. And he’s not even looking at his son, he’s actually looking at my daughter with like so much love, it still makes me teary. He’s just watching her hold the baby and it’s the most beautiful thing. Yeah, I can relate to that. Yes, seeing the dads dot on your children. Loving my children as well. And that relationship is so precious. Yes, but it’s not just about.
the baby that we’ve created it’s the family and the extended family for us and for them. Charlie, what’s so much love? This is a group that were initially, you know, didn’t know each other that well. You started, you built this deep friendship. So for us, one of the dads on you socially, so we’re all nerds and we knew each other through cosplaying competitions and Dungeons and Dragons. But I didn’t know his husband prior to all of this and I didn’t know him well. We just knew of each other and we’d met a few times. So yeah.
And so for anyone that’s sort of brand new listening tonight, surrogates and IPs, you know, hearing that this is what can be built, then this is how Australia is. And I think it’s really important for, I mean, I saw there’s a few IPs on here to be aware of that, that the way that we ended up connecting was that I was asking some friends, I said, I still wanted to do another surrogacy. I said, oh, who’s around? And the dads had actually linked in with other people about surrogacy. So I had friends saying to me, oh, there’s this really nice couple, you should get in touch with them.
So, you know, making those connections, you need to tell people you’re looking for surrogates. Even if your friends can’t help you with that journey, they might know someone. Absolutely, yeah, gotta just be talking about it, don’t we? Absolutely. Yeah. I know it’s hard to do, but that is how you make those connections. Yeah, that’s how we build it up in Australia too. Yeah, yeah. Normalize it. Yes. Last little photo there is Charlie. And so is this recent? How many months? Yeah. This is six months old, Charlie.
Yeah. Waiting for his dinner. He’s a beautiful boy, and we were just babysitting him earlier this week. So we’re very lucky they live locally, so we get lots of Charlie time. Wonderful. Yes, we were talking about that just off screen before. So expand on that a little bit more, because that’s a great example to tell people listening. So you saw him this week, you babysat him on your own. Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So.
One of the dads was at work and the other one needed to go to an appointment and Charlie was too unwell to be in daycare. So he just rang me and said, are you free? And I’m like, yeah, of course we are. So my daughter and I had Charlie over for a little while while the dads were both busy and it was beautiful. Wonderful. So that must be something that you talked about and planned in your journey. Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve done two surrogacies before and they were for couples that were in Queensland. So.
The first surrogacy, we don’t get to see each other in person very often, but we’re in touch on social media. The second surrogacy, we try and, I usually try and go up there once a year and the dads bring the boys down once a year. So we still get to see each other sort of twice a year, which is lovely. But my daughter, when I talked about doing another surrogacy, she insisted that she got to see this baby more often. She loves all her babies, but she wanted to be more involved. Certainly. And so that was, and that’s fair enough, isn’t it? Yeah.
But I suppose it’s about finding what’s right for every team. Absolutely. And look, and it worked for us because the dads in this surrogacy were also really happy to have that relationship. But it doesn’t happen quickly like you talked about. I mean, this has been three years in the making. So there was a lot of talking before we even decided to proceed with the surrogacy. I first met up with them just to talk about surrogacy in general. And then, you know, there was a lot of stuff we all needed to sort out first before we even did counseling or anything. Yeah.
So give us that timeline from the time when you first sort of started messaging them to build a friendship with perhaps the intention of being with that intention. Yeah. Well, it’s hard like COVID sort of made a mess of my brain with all of that. But I know it’s 42 when I did it because I was like 42 is a good age to have a baby and I was 45 when I had Charlie, which I felt a bit old. But it was fine. We sort of everything was extended because of COVID. So I think it was probably a year before we really took it seriously and actually went with
getting an egg donor and doing all the counselling and stuff. And then it took us four cycles to get pregnant. Yeah. So it was long, but that was good. It actually turned out for the best. We always make, you know, find the silver lining in the cloud there, don’t we? Because we definitely, but even though it’s not falling pregnant helped us build our relationship. There was more things for us to talk about. We had to discuss money a lot more. Like you said, money’s the hardest thing to talk about in this surrogacy. Everything else is doable, but money’s hard. Yes, it’s yucky. Because I was like,
We’re independent women that can run our own households and our own budgets. It almost feels like asking our parents for money. But we also choose to do altruistic surrogacy, the whole point being we don’t want money for it. And then you’re like, I’m kind of need some money. And you know it’s not for you and you know it’s pregnancy related and you know all that, but it feels awkward. And there’s this power imbalance you feel when you’re the one who’s offering this thing which is so special, it’s hard. Yes, and money’s the transactional part. Yeah, I like it.
No, I don’t think anybody does. So finding ways to keep that, you know, not so yucky, yeah, is a challenge. You get ideas from asking other people there. So yeah, so do you remember roughly how many months it took Ben to just surrogate before you started counseling and legals? Look, it was probably a good eight months, I’d say, and that was the longest.
that I’ve had with any surrogacy and partly that was COVID and the dads sort of were getting married in between and then they wanted to buy a house so financial stuff came into it as well. Yeah, fair enough. And then, yeah, you went through your counseling and legals and then you had your embryos. And then we decided that we were definitely going to do it. They got their egg donor and got all of that happening. And then the usual, I think, about six months usually it seems to take for all the process to actually come together plus the quarantining of the embryos. And then we started, yeah, transfers.
Wonderful. And once we started, it was quite smooth. Wonderful. Yep. Good. And the pregnancy for you on the whole, was it similar to your own or other surrogate pregnancies or is it harder? No, really straightforward. Yeah, it was great. Actually, it was a beautiful pregnancy, especially like cause I work and I was older. I was a bit nervous about it all. And it was really good, beautiful birth. Recovery was a bit slow. I am not young. It definitely struck me afterwards. I was like, Oh, I am 45.
And it’s hard because you don’t have that baby to remind you to rest all the time. Totally. I was back at work after eight weeks as a midwife, so it’s very physical labour. So it was hard. Definitely. Did you birth at the hospital you work at? I did. Yep. And apparently everyone was at the desk going, go Allison! They could hear me at the pushing stage and everything. It was really cute. That’s wonderful. Yes, so everybody in that hospital, all in your team that you work with. I had a huge support network. Yes. Excellent.
Good, right. Well, we might go to a couple of questions and then we’ll get more of your journey in as we go. Yeah. So we’ve got here, we’ll go to Brent’s question first. So if they’re wanting to become an IP, what’s an easy way to find a surrogate? So from all of your years and the experience, Allison, what advice would you give them to new IPs? Kind of got ahead of myself and I was already saying, it’s really so important to let people know that you’re looking, even if, as I said, even if your own circle can’t help you.
you don’t know who they know. The more people you talk to and share with, the more likely someone is to link with you. And as a surrogate, if intended parents come recommended by other people saying like, oh, this is really awesome person, that was what happened with us, is that everyone’s like, oh, there’s this really beautiful couple. And I was like, oh, okay, that sounds good. My friends are recommending them, they must be nice. And then the internet. So the internet was how I met my first two sets of IPs.
Those groups don’t exist anymore, but they were in previous groups that used to be around. So something like, I mean, obviously I’m involved in surrogacy Australia, even though I’ve already had a baby now, because I do think that that’s important. And whenever I have, obviously as a surrogate, intended parents are always contacting me and being like, how can I find someone? And this is exactly what I do. Join this sort of thing. Get to know people. Even if your surrogate’s not on here, you don’t know who people know. Yes. And sometimes it’s other surrogates that are talking to each other. Always. Oh my God, we always talk to each other. We know everything.
And as you can see, Jamie has said that they joined the Service Australia Zoom monthly catch-ups and had a great time. And I’ve got to say, that’s how people get noticed by joining these things. You’ve got to be genuine. You can’t come along going, yes, I’m going to be here. You know, no, no, because you need to find the right one. So please don’t don’t do a performance. Be you. You don’t have to be perfect and lovely and wonderful. You need to be yourself and link in with people that you’ll get along with, because this is forever.
The same as you would be careful choosing the person you have babies with yourself. Please be careful. You’re having a baby with these people. This is forever. It is forever. It’s a connection forever. Yeah, and it needs to be genuine, not perfect. It’s never perfect. No, this is great advice. I’d love to work with you more often, Allison. We speak the same language. So, and hopefully for people listening, hearing it from two people, confirmed. Oh, yeah, this is some of the ways. Yeah, it’s so important. Yeah.
Another question. Midoria asks, who’s last name does the baby take? Ah, well, that’s really completely up to you. You guys have that conversation beforehand. So my first surrogacy, we weren’t aware that we had options, so that baby had my surname at birth and then was changed when we did parentage orders. By my second surrogacy, we knew we didn’t have to do that. We could give them any name we wanted to. So when that baby was born, he had his dad’s name, his dad’s last name. And then when we did the parenting parentage orders, they got the new birth certificate with the parents’ names on it.
the baby’s name was the same. And this time around, the dads actually chose a new surname. So they combined their surnames. And so their baby has a combination of each of their last names. Beautiful. So he has his own surname now. Such variety, yeah. I know. So yes, so I know that’s an IP asking that question. Yeah. So that the baby absolutely can have the intended parent’s surname and that can go on that first birth certificate.
Absolutely, right from the start. Yes, I was learning from Michael who’s the president of Surrogacy Australia, they are a bit cheeky because they learned that the name that goes on the first certificate doesn’t actually matter. They made it up. I think they said Beatrix Potter or something. Do what you want or you can give them even if you want a memento. Like most people when you’re pregnant you have your name. So Charlie when he was in my tummy was actually Baza. We decided that was a good and non gender specific Australian name. Yes. You know, we could have put Baza.
Now speaking of being in your tummy, what is that behind you there? This is my tummy. So because I knew it was my last ever pregnancy, that was actually a belly cast. Some of my beautiful midwife friends came around and we did a little belly cast and had an afternoon tea and that’s why I put it there, it’s very precious. My last belly. Last belly. And I like to think, you know, as Charlie grows up and comes around and he’ll point at that and go, that’s me in your tummy. Exactly, it’s beautiful. Yeah, these things are special to us all.
And so I think we’ve possibly answered the anonymous question too. Do we have any naming process for the baby? So generally speaking, I mean, obviously, again, it’s a discussion, but certainly for myself, that was always up to the parents because it’s their baby. The pregnancy is me. As soon as the baby is born, all decisions about their child are theirs. Yes. This was actually an issue in my team before we got pregnant, finding out the gender or not. Is that something in your team you did find out or had different?
So again, I felt that that was the parents decision. My first two surrogacies, the parents did find out. And this time around, we decided not to, which was a little bit fun because for the ultrasounds, obviously I’m a midwife, so I can read ultrasounds. And one of the dads is a GP. And so the two of us were at this ultrasound and we’re like, just don’t go near the groin. Just don’t do it. Tell us to cover our eyes. Like we can read ultrasounds. Please don’t, we don’t wanna know.
And so it was kept a surprise? It was a surprise. And in fact, I think that the vote even in Labour was that we were having a girl and we didn’t. And you didn’t. I think I was the only one saying a boy by the end. Beautiful. So yes, every team can do that differently. But absolutely, whatever works. You just need to have that conversation like everything. It’s just open conversations. And I guess your own boundaries on what you think is yours and what’s the parents. And I just felt finding out the gender was nothing to do with me. That was always the parents decision. Yeah.
But I really didn’t want to know for this last one. So I was happy with the decision. I’ll add in that that was my personal story because I didn’t find out with my two and I didn’t want to know with Surro Bub and one day the other wasn’t too bothered. And I can go, this is before counseling. And I’m like, but I don’t want to find out. And so we’re almost like, should we be a team then? If we can’t. Oh gosh.
We considered the envelope thing, like someone write it down and just hand it, one dad did want to know and the other one didn’t, so I was the deciding vote. But it wasn’t like I wouldn’t have cared what they did, honestly. Yes, but yes it was actually then asking other surrogates and you know and they helped me see no, this is, that might help them bond with their child if they find it important to them. Yeah. Pregnancy is mine.
I embraced that, but then what we did do, it was actually today, which memories were shared, that we did a gender reveal. Well, they sent it out to all their friends and family because it was peak COVID, and they opened a popper and whatever. But what was important to me was I still revealed the gender. That was part of my job. That handing them the baby was also handing them.
which gender, which of course there’s fluidity. So I was about to say, look, you know, as a queer, we’re all, you know, on the LGBTQIA spectrum. So we were like, who cares? And even my daughter, she’s just like, do people really want to know if this baby has a penis or a vagina? Why, that’s so weird. Right, yeah. So that was the running joke when he came out. We’re just like, penis or vagina? Someone have a look. It doesn’t matter.
But yeah, so I think what’s important to me, so I, we had a little gathering of just husband and I and the two dads here and it was written on an inner card. And I told them first, not in a big public situations. I think that’s pretty special. Harrison about sharing stories there about what works. And it’s what works for you and the parents. And it’s having that conversation and supporting each other and explaining, yeah, if you don’t have that good communication, please, I hope you have by the time you’re pregnant. That’s.
Absolutely. You need some bumps along the way, don’t you, to challenge your team? Absolutely, yeah. Let’s keep going with a couple more questions here. Kyla asks, and do you work in the public system? And how did your mom management take you having mat leave for surrogacy multiple times? Yeah, so I do work in public health and surrogacy maternity leave is maternity leave. You’ve had a pregnancy, you’ve given birth, you’re recovering, you’re expressing if you’re doing that. So legally,
they can’t object to it at all. I mean, it’s the same as if you’re having a baby for yourself, we are covered under the ward. So New South Wales Health Nurses and Midwives Award covers for surrogacy. So it’s, if I’ve felt pregnant myself or if I have a baby for someone else, it’s irrelevant. Yeah. So yes, I have been well supported and I was certainly supported to in fact take my full leave which I chose not to do. I didn’t wanna just be at home being bored, to be honest. So I just took the four weeks prior to the birth and I…
came back eight weeks after the birth, so I took 12 weeks. Yes, okay, because I know that question’s being asked by a midwife. I figured that as well. And yeah, absolutely. I mean, personally, like I have a very supportive workplace, so I’m very privileged anyway. But also, yeah, they don’t have a legal right to stop you. And let me also explain, I’ve only done this last surrogacy as a midwife. The previous surrogacy was 10 and eight years ago. I wasn’t a midwife to eight, 10 years ago, and eight years ago I was only a student. So, yeah. Yeah.
different might depend on where you’re at. I haven’t done multiple times. Fair enough. And it might also depend on the age of your kids is how much leaves that you take. Because if you’ve got younger kids, it might be nice to be home with them. But if your kids are going to be home. But again, legally, you’re still entitled to have the normal maternity leave. If you want to take it at half pay and take it for an extended period, you can. You’re entitled to paid parental leave through Centrelink. That’s really important to know as well. And you’re entitled to the combination of both like anyone would if they’re having a baby. So we are women who are giving birth.
by all the same entitlements. Excellent. And that’s a great summary there for IPs and surrogates listening to, I think. Jamie asks, what was the most difficult subject to discuss with your IPs other than financials? Termination. Yeah. Absolutely. The reasons why we would or wouldn’t terminate the pregnancy was huge. My first two surrogates is it wasn’t so much because we had very similar views on it, but with the last one, it was, to be honest, something that we still hadn’t even resolved and just hoped wouldn’t come up.
I know, no, that’s so bad. Don’t ever do that. That’s so bad. But we were really close and we trusted each other. So I did feel it was something we would manage well at the time. And obviously our counsellor was aware that this was a thing that we would discuss with her. If it did become an issue that we would then go back and use her for extra support. Yeah, that’s a hard one. If you have different values around it, where’s your line? What things would you consider as reasons for termination?
What will you do if they want to terminate and you don’t want to? Like that was the big one for me. What if there was something that the parents said, no, we don’t want that. And I said, well, I’m going to continue with the pregnancy. You know, that can happen. I don’t know when it’s happened, but it can. And it’s something that you need to discuss in counseling because in that case, you know, I would have been having a baby. That’s not mine. Yeah. Big stuff there. Huge, really hard. Yeah. So that’s a big one for me.
Just if you have strong views on it either way, it’s hard. Yes. And I think we’ll just say it’s okay for all parties to have strong views because there’ll be a match for you out there somewhere that you can work with. And again, it’s so important to really be honest in your counseling sessions. Your counseling sessions aren’t about impressing anyone. There’s no point linking with the wrong people. It’s not, it’s gonna take the joy from all of it. And this whole thing’s about joy.
So yeah, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Be honest, be honest if you’ve got strong views. Definitely, both sides there. Both sides. And that’s what I really appreciate is while we didn’t reach a conclusion, everyone was safe to express how they felt and what their boundaries would be and where we would go from there if we couldn’t agree. So yeah. Yeah, that sounds like a great strong team to get to there that we’ll be here where you’re at, we’ll take time if we need to. Yeah.
Cool, a question here from Joanna. So she’s considering being a surrogate and wondering about the surrogate dating process and what happens if you decide after a few weeks or months that you’re not the right fit. Yeah, yeah. I’ve had experience with that, I do. Me too. Yeah, because I’d want to be careful about my choice but also not want to let down any IPs. I would rather let someone down early on than again, I know I keep saying it, but I mean, pregnancy is huge. You need to have a good team for a pregnancy and it needs to be
for the rest of this child’s life. I mean, that’s what it should be for it to be a good relationship and a good surrogacy in my opinion. So you’re much better off six weeks down the track, two months down the track. So my second surrogacy, I had been chatting to some people and I thought that they were great. We got along really well and it didn’t pan out.
And in fact, what worked out was there was a couple that I was just talking to, because I was actually helping run a surrogacy group at that point online, and was just helping some dads through the process. And I was like, Oh, I’m going to have to look for some new parents now. And they were like, Hmm, what about us? And I was like, Oh, but you guys aren’t ready yet. And I want to do it now. And they were like, we will remortgage our house. Let’s have a baby. So please, I mean, it’s really hard letting people down. It really is, but you’ve got to do it early on. You can’t do it once you’re pregnant.
So really try and do that, build that. Be honest from the start though, do say that we’re still just building this, I’m not offering, I just want to get to know you, let’s get to know each other, let’s go through this, let’s see what happens. It is just like dating in real life, as a single mum, you know, you’re not locked in until you’re locked in. And even then, so you can call it off.
Any point you don’t owe anyone anything I know there’s some money involved if they’ve started counseling and everything you don’t owe anyone anything You don’t owe anyone your body. All right feminist me is kicking in here. I Also think just an analogy I’m thinking about tonight is that you know You don’t want to let them down if you were dating a person to be a partner And you knew that they weren’t the right fit one. You don’t just keep going stay with them because I should
No, because they’ve invested time and money in me. No, that’s not a good reason to have a baby with someone. And so it’s the same in surrogacy. So yes, do follow your gut instinct. Yeah. Sometimes so a red flag doesn’t necessarily mean a breakup. Sometimes it means you need to chat to other surrogates, other people and use your counselors like they especially the experienced counselors that, you know, most of us use the same ones these days. They know what they’re talking about. Use them. Just give them a call and say, can I just have a chat?
And then from what you were saying, Anna, with the SASS thing, which I wasn’t aware about, you know, use if you’re linked in with that, use anyone you can, who’s got experience, find a mediator. Like, yeah, absolutely. Disagreeing doesn’t mean it’s over. Like a marriage, like dating. Good point. And you need to improve your communication. Did you have some ongoing counseling during any pregnancies and postbirth with any of your? No, I didn’t, but I wish I had. Okay. Yeah.
And that was actually my little notes I was writing. It was about building a relationship, communicating, listening to the counselor, being open with your intended parents about the sort of support you’re gonna need, which you then touched on, especially as a single mom, having to really be like, I’m gonna need more. And don’t commit to me, because it goes both ways. I was like, don’t commit to me unless you can give me extra. I’m not a married, intended parent. It’s just me and two teenagers, I need help. And so before they committed, that needed to be out there. And yeah, ongoing counseling in pregnancy.
I didn’t do it and I actually think that I should have and I would highly recommend it to everyone even if things are going smoothly. It’s good to have someone objective to bounce things off that’s not in it. Not your husband, not your kids, not the parents, not your work colleagues. Yes. And I don’t think I’ve ever met a surrogate that’s then had a session during pregnancy that said, oh, that wasn’t worth it. You always walk away going, oh, I feel a bit lighter. Yeah. And given the whole cost of surrogacy, if the parents are paying for one counseling session for things to go better.
They haven’t lost anything. The costs for supporting us are nothing compared to the costs that go to counsellors and lawyers and IVF treatments. We’re pretty cheap. The surrogates costs in this process are quite cheap. And nothing. Yeah. What’s it saying? Taking care of your surrogate is taking care of your baby. So let’s face it, the drugs cost more than a counselling session for us. So the IVF drugs are crazy. Yes, that’s right. And so, yes, so for surrogates, it’s often that asking for more. But if you.
I know one team that weren’t with SASS that prepaid Katrina Hale for 10 sessions. Yeah, great. So essentially with SASS, you know, we’ve got that model set up with the council. Yeah, and I think that that would be great. And my last, so my last surrogacy was just wonderful. So I didn’t really need it in that. Like we’re super close, but I definitely should have done it in earlier surrogacies because there were communication issues that could have been resolved better. Yeah.
Did you find it tricky to convey the hormonal parts or physical discomforts of pregnancy when your IPs were both men? Yes. I think it helps that they both, they have young children in their family, they’ve supported friends and siblings and things through pregnancy, so they certainly were more aware of it. And one of the fathers, of course, was a doctor. But yes, to be completely honest, I don’t think they really got it. And my previous surrogacy was also for a gay couple.
And even though they have pregnant people in their lives, they know all that sort of stuff, I don’t think they 100% get it. But in fairness, I don’t think my husband ever got it either. Like he would try and be supportive and lovely and kind, but I think a lot of the time he thought I was just whinging. So in fairness, and as a midwife, can men ever really 100% get it, or anyone who hasn’t carried a baby, they’re not going to 100% get it because they haven’t done it, but communicate. And you can’t, okay, you’re not gonna ring your IPs every day to whinge about how crap do you feel.
But you can do it every now and then because they do need to know and they do need to value what you’re doing. And certainly then they can help you if you don’t tell them that you’re struggling. They can’t help. Yeah. If you don’t say I’m just so exhausted, I can’t manage this. They don’t know when to offer a cleaner. They don’t know when to provide food. They can’t help you if you don’t let them know. And they do want to be involved even with the bad part. So you said your surrogacy journey to was.
two guys and then number three, were there some things that you learnt from your first two journeys then that you took into your third that you wanted to do differently or better? Probably, as I said, it’s more the ongoing counselling and the better communication. I have no regrets. Like I’m so, I love all my families that I’ve helped be part of and it’s beautiful to watch them grow. But I do think they could have been healthier relationships during the pregnancy. And I do think having counselling would have really helped with that.
and supported us communicating better. And that’s on me as much as on them. I wasn’t good at communicating what I needed and what I wanted out of it either. So I think someone external helping us with that would have been made it, it was already good but it could have made it beautiful. Yeah. Good advice there. Would be great if people could join us for a Zoom. Head to the Surrogacy Australia website to see links for that. Or if you’re following us on social media, you’ll see that mentioned as well too.
and your videos are turned on for that. So this being a webinar is just us, but being a Zoom, it’s like a meeting. Yes, everyone’s is on. So it is scary the first time, but remember everybody’s just done it the first time. And some people have only ever been to one. So they were new just last time, so they get it. But you’re welcome to be obviously at home in your comfy clothes. But if you’ve got any more messages about that, find my email on the Circus Australia website and send me a message there. So Allison to…
To sum it all up there, have you got any parting advice? I think we’ve covered a lot of things. I was gonna say, I think I’ve covered all the advice, just that it’s wonderful. Like I have no regrets. It’s as you touched on before, it’s so beautiful not just seeing this family, but their families, the extended people. I’ve done it three times. There’s been, it’s been hard, it’s been full on, and I have no regrets. Best things I’ve ever done. So other than my own babies, and even my own babies would agree. So yeah, it’s a beautiful thing to do.
Beautiful thing to do as an individual and as you’re saying as… And for my family as well. Yeah, definitely. I wonder what well-rounded human beings you’ve helped to make with your own kiddos in this world then. I hope so. Thank you for sharing your time with me for this episode. If you are finding these episodes helpful, please share them with friends. If you’d like to see the images mentioned, head to our YouTube channel for all of the recordings. If you’re looking for more individualised support…
consider joining SASS, Surrogacy Australia’s support service, so you can be connected with a mentor and also with me to help guide you on a journey. You might think of me as your Siri for surrogacy. Until next time, welcome to the village.
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