Episode 47 – Sam – gay dad

Sam and his husband Sam from Coffs Harbour became parents to their son Charlie in September 2023. Allison, who also lives locally, was their surrogate and they knew her socially before starting their journey. Their egg donor, Claire, was previously work colleague of the other Sam and has been a part of their second family for many years already.
You can hear from his surrogate, Allison, in episode 4.

This episode was recorded in March 2024.

To see the beautiful images described in this recording, watch it on our YouTube channel.


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). 

Follow Surrogacy Australia on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube

Are you an Intended Parent (IP) who is looking to find a surrogate, or a surrogate looking for Intended Parents? Join SASS.


Thanks for watching!

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 March 2024, features Sam. Sam and his husband, also called Sam, from Coffs Harbour, became parents to their son Charlie in September 2023. Allison, who lives locally, was their surrogate, and they knew her socially before starting their journey. Their egg donor Claire was previously a work colleague of the other Sam, and has been a part of their second family for many years already. You can hear from his surrogate Allison in episode four.

In this episode, we discuss things like the involvement of the surrogate’s children in the process and even at the birth. One of the intended parents, the IPs, is a GP and managing the balance between their medical needs and knowledge with the surrogate’s needs and her experience, counselling requirements for egg donation and surrogacy,

Team members feeling differently about terminating a pregnancy if it ever came to that. Some very valuable insights from Sam about how he and his husband weighed up their different options as well as talks about enjoying the simple parenting moments and the mess and we even segwayed into cloth nappies. I hope you enjoy this episode.

Sam, thank you for joining us. We’ve got some beautiful photos here. Obviously this photo is of pregnancy. So perhaps this time around, we’ll go from the pregnancy onwards and then we’ll come back to the beginning of how you met your surrogate, Alison, and how you fell into it. So do you remember what was happening in this photo? Was it just a snap that happened in someone’s house for pregnancy? Yeah, so that’s…

met Sam’s in my place. It was a few months in and it was the first time that Alison kind of started to pop out a little bit. So she was pretty excited. She was coming over semi-regularly anyway because we all live in Coffs Harbour. Pretty sure the person who took that photo was Sam’s mum and you know, Alison was talking about the bump and stuff and yeah, she got really excited. She was like, we have to take a photo. So anyway, that’s it.

Because I don’t know about your team but sometimes you’re just so busy catching up you forget to take odos too don’t you? Oh definitely definitely and even um when you were messaging me before the webinar and stuff you’re like oh do you have any of you know catch-ups before pregnancy and transfers and I was like I don’t think I do. Yeah it’s sometimes weird to stop and take a photo of a team just hanging out together isn’t it? Yeah totally yeah yeah. And then I think this next photo here you did um some maternity photos as a team is that what this is? Yeah we did so it’s

about. Look, if I’m honest, I don’t really like stage photos very much, even at me and Sam’s wedding. It was something Alison was really passionate about. She had it with her previous service as well. My husband’s there with her, and if I’m honest, we got some really great photos. So the photographer was really good and everything looked quite natural. It looks like there’s some laughs going on there. Was laughter a part of your team in your journey? Oh, definitely, definitely. All three of us in massive jerkses. And even actually, I could tell you what we were laughing about at that exact point in time.

because even though Alison was really keen to get the pregnancy photos done, she also hates staged photos. And we were both laughing because we were like, how do you smile without looking like a serial killer? Because you’ve got to like smile with your whole face and not like just leave your eyes as you don’t stay open. So we were laughing about that and yeah, turned out to be a great photo. Excellent. I always find surrogacy photos amusing depending if you carry for two guys or a hetero couple.

you not make it look like polyamory and it’s just multiple people coming together here to have a baby or sometimes if it’s a hetero couple and if the intended mum and the surrogate have a photo together they just look like a couple. Yeah yeah totally yeah yeah. Lovely yeah and so for those listening if you didn’t catch quite what Sam said their surrogate Allison has carried before.

twice before as a surrogate so this time was her third surrogacy so she was experienced but you guys were new to it but I’m assuming you were able to draw on her experiences of what she wanted out of this next journey but also to make sure that you had the journey that you wanted as well. Yeah definitely we relied on Alison a lot actually both for her experience being a midwife and also her experience having been a surrogate mum twice already. Alison’s had three of her own kids and then has been a surrogate mum twice so six births in total.

It’s your first day, right? Yeah. What do you feel and think when you look at these photos? Things are a bit cold waiting with that off.

Ready for some skin to skin? Yeah, yeah. And we joke a lot about the photo on the right actually, that statistically speaking, probably the only straight person in that photo is Charlie, our son. Yeah, there’s lots of fun memories there, isn’t there? Because Alison was really keen to do a water birth and we supported that. You can just see kind of in the top left there, that’s Elle, Alison’s…

youngest child of her own. And she really wanted to be at the birth. And yeah, it was a really fun experience actually, because I’ve never been at a live birth other than my own, I guess. But like, you know, Alison’s midwife, Sam’s a GP. So, you know, during all this training and stuff, he did it eight times. So I was sitting there the whole time like gawking like, why is this next? This is so exciting.

and you know, Elle, you know, I haven’t obviously seen one either. So she was kind of like, oh God, is this what it’s like? Do I really want to go through this one day? Yeah, it was really fun. And that’s probably leads us to the next photo here with you guys and Charlie.

of Alison’s kids here. So Alison’s daughter at the birth, I mean clearly your team was comfortable with that, that to get to that point of you guys not minding her there, is that how you got as a team? Yeah 100%. One of the things that Alison was really clear about really from the get-go is that she wanted it to be a family experience. One of the things with her previous surrogacies is you know just because it’s where they live, you know one couple was in Brisbane, the other couple was in Sydney. I guess it was one of the things where sometimes, especially because their kids are much

then. There was always kind of this disconnect I think between like, well why is mummy doing this? You know, why is, you know, why can’t mum do this stuff around the house right now, you know? And there was just a little bit less like physical support all the time because, you know, living and working in Sydney or Brisbane you kind of just, you know, fly to a remote area to spend, you know, time with someone.

And one of the things that we really, really wanted to do as well was, I guess, support her as much as possible through it all. So from the moment we started waddling, I suppose, we started saying, we’d go around a visit and we’d say, oh, look, your lawn needs doing. Do you want us to come around on the weekend? And actually, Allison was very hard to do things for because she’s a single mom as well. So she’s got a very independent head. So we often had to argue with her, just be like, just let us do it. If one of us was pregnant, the other one.

would be doing it. You know, let us do that. Or actually, like you said before, you know, things like buying takeaway food, you know, when she’s too tired of things. I remember having actually an argument with Alison where in the end, I don’t regret it at all, but in the end I said, Alison, I know you’re a massive people pleaser, so I’m going to have to say it like this. I’m going to be very angry and disappointed with you if you don’t order pizza for your family tonight. Because we were on the phone and she was talking about how tired she was and you know, how cooking had been really hard and she was really great

wasn’t good at accepting the help. So I just laid into that people pleaser and just guilted her into it. I said fine, but I won’t be happy about it. I said good, it’s alright. As long as you’re well rested afterwards and if you cook yourself it’s alright. That’s a good technique right? If you’ve worked out your surrogate or people pleaser, which probably a lot of them are, they’re not going to accept help easily and so you might have to boss them around a bit. Yeah definitely, definitely. And you know, just because she’s so independent, but also

aware of the, I guess the power difference as well. Like she really didn’t want to ever make us feel like she was asking for things, which she did too well to the point where like anything other than medical bills and stuff, I had to convince her. I was like, please just like, keep this key card on you. Like, we’ll make sure there’s always money on it. Just order takeaway food whenever you need. Um, yeah, I even, I even snuck around and did it through the kids. Sometimes I’d message Brendan on social media and be like, how’s mom coping? Is she all right? Not telling me that she’s, you know, struggling. And he’d be like,

aw yeah, I was really tired today, I’d be like, how’s it?

Take care of yourself. And yeah, and that’s lovely that you were up for that type of journey, that you wanted to be involved in help and with your time and your friendship and your love as much as possible. I’m often faced with stubborn altruistic surrogates who, and independent women, single moms, I can do this. Letting them allow your help is sometimes half the battle. Yeah, definitely, definitely. But at the same time, walking that line of not wanting to, you know, take away that actual capacity to take care of themselves as well.

when when I could tell she wanted the help that was you know I guess in that state of like you know willing to communicate but not quite willing to ask you know I’d kind of push that over the line a bit um but there were plenty of other times where you know we’d go around for a visit or something and say oh look do you want me to do the dishes bar here and she’d be like no no I’ve got it all no no Brendan’s gonna do it he’s got to do that to get his pocket money or whatever it was and I’m sort of sidetracking here but did you find then you know out of the two ips you know sometimes in an intended mum and intended dad scenario the intended mum is the main one

that probably builds that emotional connection with Asariga or is the project manager. Were you therefore Sam the main one that was that emotional connection and project manager or was it fairly shared? I think probably project manager-wise other Sam is much better at being organized than I am. I have ADHD so in terms of like all the appointments, yeah all the appointments, yeah yeah yeah everything that was all him. I was probably more

I was probably better at that emotional support side. But in saying that, I’d say Sam wasn’t invested in that either. And one of his love languages is food. So he would often be cooking for us and just make like a second lasagna. Or, you know, Alison’s vegan. Sam would go out of his way to make vegan desserts and things and drop them off at the house. Yeah, that’s lovely. What’s the driving distance between your houses? Oh, like 10 k’s or something. So, you know, pretty close, pretty close. Yeah. Yeah. And then we start to move through some photos here.

we’ve got multi-generational photos happening here. Yeah, yeah, so on the left it’s obviously Charlie down the bottom, then me, my mum and my gran are there, so that’s four generations, pretty nice. Proud of them. And fun fact about that photo on the right is I’ve also got a photo, which is the next one in my photo reel, where it’s the same position but Sam is covered from chin down in vomit. I’m making Charlie laugh too much after that photo.

Excellent, that’s good parenting photos there, it all happened. And that’s what surrogates live for, to see that happen to you. Yeah, for sure, for sure. And then life goes on, doesn’t it? And he starts to grow up in his cot and just having dad moments, is that what these photos are? Yeah, mostly. That one on the left actually is about half an hour before I lowered his cot. So this is while, yeah, so that was still while I was off. I took the first three months off after Charlie was born and then Sam took three months off.

months off after that. I’m pretty sure this is like in the last couple of weeks of my time off, um, which Ali had just started to pull the stand a little bit. I know we’ve been a funny guy, I guess. Yeah, I heard him wake up from his nap and I was in way through pulling stuff out of the dryer. Um, but he was just cooing and he wasn’t, you know, screaming or anything. So I thought, oh, he’ll be right for a sec. I’ll finish getting this out. Then I get up there and just brought up that photo. He actually had one of his legs on the top of the railing. And I thought to myself, one, you’re too young for this.

I need to lower that today.

This is dangerous. I’m so glad I was only like one minute after you woke up rather than 10. Chipped in on the floor, yes. Yeah, yeah. That’s often how parenting works in it. You make your changes when there’s a need to. Oh, 100%, 100%. And Charlie’s one of those kids who has done everything, you know, either at like the earliest stage thingy or like a bit early even then, which, you know, a lot of parents like, oh, you must be so proud. You must be so smart, blah, blah. I always go, look, this has no bearing on whether he’s, you know,

physicist later on or if he is unemployed for the rest of his life. All this means like when he rolled about a month early I was like all this means is I can’t leave him on the kitchen bench anymore because he’ll die. I can’t turn around with him on the bed anymore I’ve got to have him in the room. The other mums are like oh yeah like because they’re all so excited waiting for the roll and I was too but I thought I had you know another month and then he much earlier and I went oh no oh no like I’ve got I’ve got to do so much now you know. I’ve got to safety protect the home

on the move now, like he’s not just a sleepy potato anymore. And then that one on the right is only a couple of weeks ago, actually, about maybe a month ago. Yeah, probably. Growing up, right? Yeah, very much so, very much so. Photos are a little out of sync, but there’s a photo here of him covered in flour on the kitchen floor, is that right? Yeah, yep, he gets into absolutely everything. So it’s a matter of, you know, everything’s either got a safety lock of some kind on it, or, you know, the stuff at his level is relatively safe for him to play with. This was one of those moments where parents will definitely recognize

You’re kind of home with the kid. Just all of a sudden you go, it’s too quiet. You come around the corner and you go. Oh.

Oh, what a lovely picture you’ve drawn of him. Yes. What mess have I got to clean up now? Yeah, yeah. He was very, very proud of himself though. So after taking the photo, we just kind of both laid the flower for about 20 minutes until he was over it. I bothered to clean that because, you know, why take away that joy when it doesn’t damage anything, you know? Yeah. And then that other one on the right, probably only about a month ago as well, Malkin the dog on the beach with Charlie. Yeah. And I’d imagine they’re the types of photos that that’s such a simple photo, but I love

my co-hosts to send me say 10 photos and I love seeing which photos they send me because clearly they mean something to you and so that’s a photo of your man in your life your little man and it’s that’s that’s living the dream isn’t it that’s living the parenting moment just simply walking on the beach having a splash in the waves. Exactly. My boys. Oh my boys. Oh your boys. Yeah. So yeah I hope it’s everybody that’s listening that they they all get to experience these parenting moments and again

couple of photos here too, just hanging out and doing things. Yeah, exactly. The left photo there is Charlie’s first visit to a winery, best of many hopefully. He tasted two different types of juice, he was very impressed. And then on the right is only, I don’t know, three weeks ago.

got into mud. It’s very excited playing with sink things at the moment, loves water. So we figured it much easier to have that outside rather than constantly cleaning up giant puddles in the kitchen. We have a mud kitchen we call it.

I’ve just noticed now, do I spy a cloth nappy then? Yes, yeah. So as much as possible, we tried to use cloth nappies. We’ve been a little bit slack on that in the last couple of months, mostly because almost all of Charlie’s clothes actually are hand-me-downs. And even the cloth nappies and things are all hand-me-downs from his cousins or just other people we know who’ve had their toddlers and they don’t want more and they’ve given us stuff. And some of them are just getting to the stage of the Velcro and working very well. So I’ve started putting those push buttons in a bunch of them.

Sometimes A ADHD and B just parent life, you kind of get through a few of them and you’re like, oh, just knock out the rest later. And then all of a sudden at six months have gone by and you go, oh, I only did half the nappies. I get it. Yeah. We did cloth nappies for the first year, but sometimes overnight not did the other. Yeah. We, after probably the first three months, we just did horrible super big nappy over the nighttime. Cause it’s really the only thing that’s just going to hold everything over that, you know, eight hour period. Absolutely. Yep.

there so. Totally yeah. Thank you for sharing those beautiful photos with us. Oh alright. So Sam, Daniel asks, is it easier to find an egg donor yourself than to purchase one from a clinic? So in your scenario you knew your egg donor through your husband Sam’s work. Was that because she randomly approached you or did you spread the word to friends and family that you needed an egg donor and then she stepped forward? We actually had Alison on board before we had before we had our egg donor in that when we started looking we were very fortunate, this is

in that when I, for Adana, who’s living in Coffs as well, she added this to the group, she said, oh, also I’ll just let a friend of mine know who’s also in Coffs who happens to be looking for someone. And Alison knew who I was, because I used to run a whole lot of events in Coffs, still do, and she’d been to most of them. Within about a week of joining the online groups, Alison messaged me with this giant long message, essentially saying, you know, I think you’re awesome, I wanna do one more baby before I hang up my uterus, you know, I’d love to have your baby. And I was like, oh, I haven’t started thinking about much yet.


So in that case, we did kind of ask around a little bit. Claire, who was our egg donor, Sam and Claire lived together very early on in their careers along with Sam’s other best friends. And they’ve all kind of been chosen family for how old is he now? About 15 years now, which is awesome. Originally our friend Caitlin, she was going to donate eggs and stuff. She was worried about her family’s kind of high rate of mental health and all those kinds of things. So she was umming and ahhing a little bit.

any pressure on. And then one day we were all hanging out together and we got a bit drunk and um, Caitlin goes, Oh, I really don’t want to give you eggs. Don’t just worry that I’ll like curse your child with mental health problems. And we were like, don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry. And Claire pipes up and goes, what are you talking about? I promised you I’d give you eggs like 10 years ago when we were drunk one day at uni. And Sam went, did you? And she goes, yeah, what do I have to do? And within a month she was taking it. So like, you know, we were blue very much and we had lots of people around who were very-

Well that brings us back to the question I haven’t asked. How did you meet Alison then? Yeah, I’d met Alison a few times through those events that I’d run. I used to run a really big pop-talk convention here in Coffs called Level Up in the Nexus Con. Alison came and you know her kids and her would be in cosplay and stuff and they’d want to come up and meet the guy who was you know on the stage and things. Yeah we kind of met a few times through that. You know we were both nerds as well so we had a lot of kind of you know connections and stuff through Facebook. And yeah when after Shannon obviously reached out to Alison and said hey I know this guy.

who’s looking, Alison kind of went, I don’t hear him. So yeah, I got this giant long message in my office. So again, you just never know where you’re going to meet each other. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Jamie and Cody asked the question, how many transfers, embryo transfers did it take in your journey? Was it the first one? No, it wasn’t. It was the fourth one for us, which I think statistically it’s about a 30 to 40% chance of success each time, depending on a few bits involved. Fourth time for us, which if you ask Alison is because

we didn’t wear lucky rainbow socks for the first three tries. All of her successful transfers have been whilst she’s been wearing her lucky rainbow toe socks. So on that fourth one, actually it was really fortuitous on that fourth one we all had matching rainbow socks but also Claire came to the fourth one so it was really nice. It’s nice to see her egg going in. Yeah yeah exactly yeah she was really fascinated about the process and things. And again so many people in the room as Alison got pregnant. And yeah a question here from Zach and Mark they

eggs. From what they’ve seen they have to do counselling sessions with the clinic with the egg donor and get approved and then they’ll have sessions with the surrogate too as a separate set of sessions. Is that correct? Do we have to have the egg donor and surrogate and us as one whole session in order to get approved? I don’t think so. Did you ever have to do that with the donor and the surrogate Sam? No we didn’t. That might be one of the things that may be a little bit different in different states or something but at least in New South Wales we didn’t have to do that. We did have to do a session with Claire and we did have to do separate sessions with Alice.

multiple sessions with Alison. Mostly they’re around things. I think the reason they keep them separate is because the issues are very different. So with Claire, a lot of it focuses on things like, you know, would we be telling Charlie, you know, who he’s genetically related to and even things like it sounds odd, but it’s really not when you start thinking about it. Even just things like how, like, if you’re not going to tell him in close that time, like how would you manage if he started dating one of Claire’s children? You know, like all those kind of things come up. Whereas with Alison, it’s a lot more about, you know,

how you’re gonna support each other during the pregnancy and what’s gonna happen post that and what relationship that you’ll maintain. Agree. And so from my experience to those asking, so Mark, having been the egg donor and two of those times with the surrogacy, no, there never was a time where I was having sessions with the surrogate as well. They’re separate things because they’re often done at separate times. And sometimes you might not even have a surrogate when you’re doing the egg donation and egg collection there. So they are separate issues. Done in similar ways in terms of individual and then group sessions, but never as a giant group there.

So Sam, back to your journey, are there particularly challenging moments that you found as a team and how you navigated those? Yeah, for sure. There are a few bits, I suppose. It’s interesting the dynamics of discussion that happen when there’s kind of three people involved, I suppose. Even when you start talking about, I guess, especially when you’re starting your surrogacy journey, you don’t necessarily want to think about that. You start talking about, you know, when you get like the NIP test and those kinds of things, like are you as three people open to, you know,

being a child that is incredibly likely to have some kind of genetic disorder or like Down syndrome or CP or anything like that, or would you report that pregnancy and then start a new one? You know, there’s a whole massive discussion when you’ve got three people involved obviously, but then also, like, you know, if you’ve gotten to that point of pregnancy, like, you’ve probably had a few transfers and, you know, before transfers happen, you’ve got to be on a whole bunch of meds and there’s a whole lot more to ask there than if you were in a super hyper

fertile, free couple where you keep accidentally having pregnancies. You might just be like, oh, no, I wouldn’t. At that point in time, you might’ve invested a whole bunch of time and money and emotional energy. And if you’re a straight couple, well, for a gay couple, there’s a little bit less, I think, emotional investment only in that. For a straight couple, to get to that point, you’ve tried everything else first. So surrogacy is like your last

those are emotionally invested, but it means that you don’t have like, I guess, any kind of previous trauma and trying to failing. So those conversations were key. And I mean, we all came to the same answers in the end, which is great. You know, you do have to be willing to be like open and honest, but also have a third person involved. And yeah, it’s a very different. Are you saying then that perhaps in terms of conversations regarding termination that initially you guys weren’t all on the same page, it was different to start with? Not necessarily. I think we all kept reading it like the elephant in the room. And we ended

of all agreeing that we decide when the time came. Okay. But we all, because we all had pros and cons and I think we all were aware that, you know, there was both sides there and that like Sam’s a doctor, I’m from a social work family, my brother’s got disability, like, you know, of anyone in the world, you know, we’re a couple who would have the right like amount of like financial support and, you know, lived experience and you know, knowledge and stuff to hopefully help that child grow up with every advantage possible.

even if they were born with some kind of severe disability, then there’s also that question of like, once you know also coming from a family where, you know, there’s this feeling in the family, do you want to willingly go through however many years of extra effort and emotional stuff, and baggage, all that kind of jazz? You know, like obviously you love the child no matter what, but just because you love them doesn’t necessarily mean that an atypical child is just as much work as a child with some kind of severe disability. You know, there’s a lot more to consider.

In the end, we’re really glad we didn’t have to make the decision, but it worked out for the best, I suppose. Any advice then that you’d give to people or teams at the beginning about how to navigate that together? Yeah, I guess just trying not to be afraid or nervous too much about it. Just being honest about what your genuine feelings are, but as well spending some time genuinely questioning why you feel the way you do. A bit of context,

background. My gran actually, the one in that photo, has been knighted by the church, by the Catholic Church. She’s a dame, officially, according to the Catholic Church. And, you know, my immediate family’s like, my mum and that, they didn’t really do anything. But I actually went off to study to be a priest for about a year and a half. I had to actually explore quite a bit, because initially my gut reaction was, no, no, no, don’t do it, don’t do it. But I had to explore a lot in myself. Well, what are the actual reasons why I’m questioning that, you know, like,

and come to that, I guess, realization in myself that yes, we could definitely, you know, there’s no, there’s no telling who that child could be. You know, they could be the next Stephen Hawking or whatever, you know, just because you’ve got a disability doesn’t mean you can’t achieve great things. Um, but you know, it does mean that me and Sam’s life would be completely different. You know, we wouldn’t be able to have as much freedom. We still have as parents, we’d have a lot more emotional, uh, investment in, you know, and tiredness and whatnot, just everyday life. And yeah, considering all those things more practically rather than just from someone else told me it’s bad.

don’t do it kind of thing. I think what I’ve learned in this journey is it’s okay to want what you want. Yes. You don’t need to be ashamed about that and on a slightly parallel, sometimes with the two guys in terms of deciding who sperm to use, it turns out sometimes in the couple.

turns out one of them feels much more strongly about it than the other. And that’s why I think they should voice that and not just go, I don’t mind if you don’t mind, I don’t mind. But no, if you actually do mind, say it. Yeah. And same with termination too. It’s okay to have your voice for what you feel. Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And I think it’s, it’s not until you kind of explore those feelings that you can actually kind of really decide where do I sit, you know? And in the end, I’m probably more on the side of like, I’d probably terminate it because you know, early enough.

came up and those kind of things, because I work with people every day who have severe disability, I work with lots of families and stuff, and I just know that while they love the child and those children are amazing and they’re in the world, I’d almost just rather not know in advance because it makes the decision easier because they’re just born and you go, cool, right, this is what we’re doing, right? But as soon as you know, there’s this whole other, yeah. Good point. But speaking of the sperm thing, Sam and I were very practical, well, Sam was, and he just said, we’ll get both our thing tested,

just whoever’s got the most fertile firm would just go with them because then it’s kind of the most best chance of making the most viable embryos. And I won, I’m the winner, just so you know. Big, big thank you, thank you. We did have the unfortunate thing of finding out that other sands actually inferred during that process. So yeah, which is something that he then had to go through. Yeah. And dealing with that discussion as a couple. But good thing, if you don’t mind me pointing out, despite that you were the winner, it still took four goes. Oh yeah, for sure, for sure. And actually we initially had

17 viable embryos of wit. There’s like two stages where like they can potentially die whatever they like because they leave them kind of going for four days or something before they freeze them. By the time we froze them we still had 11 which is a huge number actually like if anyone knows anything about egg donation and how many embryos you get 11 is a huge number. So you know Claire and I obviously both had very healthy things going on which was great. Her eggs were great, my sperm are ready to go like they got it on in that petri dish.

But yeah, and it’s still two or four guys. Do you remember if you got them tested? We wanted to, but there was a mix up with the clinic where they didn’t do the, because that’s one of the things that helps determine like the efficacy, right? Like they do a certain test. Yeah, but anyway, no. So in the end we didn’t, but it wasn’t, we had chosen to, but they just kind of forgot. So I do wonder out of that 11, maybe only three or four might’ve passed the test. The first three that they put in might’ve been some of those ones that didn’t quite chromosomally match up and stuff like that.

Sometimes you’re just never sure though, are you? Yeah, exactly, exactly. Yeah, you know, everything else looked fine on the thingy, but it’s just that little extra test that you can request. I’m not sure why it’s request rather than like a mandatory thing, but. Yeah, an extra add-on and charge money, right? I can get my money. Yeah, totally, yeah. Well, there are any other things in your journey then that were challenging or that you did well as a team that you’re proud of? Yeah, I think that we struck a really good balance as a team in that.

I mean, if you’re not medical, this might not make sense, but there is a little bit of a rivalry maybe between midwives and doctors, which mostly stems from a lot of midwives are very holistic and really want to know about this lovely natural thing and yada yada. And if everything goes well, a woman giving birth never sees it during the birthing, right? If everything goes well, you don’t need one at all. The midwives do everything. For a lot of doctors, Sam included. Sam, before he left the hospital and became a GP and stuff, he’s been a doctor.

a fair bit of time doing a mixture of like, he’d and I always call it geriatric, but it’s not what you’re like gynecology. Um, right. That, yeah, that’s not what she, um, and that he had, um, being adopted on really negative experiences. Remember, because the only time he was called was like at 1130 at night when it was just time to take a nap on the couch. And all of a sudden he’s like, got a rush and basically save a baby or a mom’s life, you know? And then there was me in the middle of the club who knew nothing. Yes. So sometimes there’d be a bit where, um, I guess

She really wanted that kind of in her head that ideal like I really want to have a lovely water birth, I want Elle to be there, you know, all that kind of stuff. And I remember when we were first discussing it before we kind of met, talk about what birth would be like. We were in the car driving there and Sam was very much so like, you know, I don’t want her to, you know, I don’t want to do a home birth, I don’t want to do this because I’m worried about blah, blah, blah, just all this stuff that he has seen, you know, like Sam has that trauma of being in births where the mother hasn’t made it or the kid hasn’t made it or, you know, as a result there’s disability.

So he was really worried from that standpoint. I remember as Alison was describing her ideal birth, Sam’s grip on my hand getting tighter and tighter under the table. But then the moment she said, but I’m also practical. Like the second anything goes wrong, I’m out of that bathroom on the table and they’re chopping me open. He just relaxed visibly in the chair and went, oh, thank God she’s not. You know, like, which I think from her standpoint is, you know, her valid as well. Like being in mid-life, I’ll do that. So she’s, you know, she wants that ideal thing, but, and she has had caesareans passed as well.

So while she wanted a fully natural birth, yeah, there could be case there.

Yeah. Meaning both her sides are sometimes tricky. And I often had to kind of be a bit of the mediator, I suppose, not mediator, but just kind of, you know, making sure that I didn’t want it to overcome to that point where they both just looked at me and went, well, you have to decide, which did happen once. And that was with the antibiotics and the smear, like right before. The strip. Yeah, yep. Yep. That one, like right before the birth and stuff, where Alison was like, well, even if you test it by the time they put in antibiotics and stuff, like if you’re giving birth, like there’s really not that much point.

like your bubs born like stripped of all their you know um positive bacteria and whatever and Sam was like no we’ve got to do it because danger danger danger danger and in the end I went ah and they both looked at me like well you have to be the deciding factor because I don’t know exactly how on that particular issue give me a week and I’ll do research and I’ll find out um and the next time we met up I said look I would actually rather Allison’s way if only because either way like yes it can be life threatening if you don’t notice anything but then Dr Jack our midwife was you

and we’d notice it quite quickly and about again. I think what I’m hearing from that, I really liked what you said there, that when you were put in as the middle man, you bought yourself some time and you said, give me a week. And that’s what my team did. Whenever we came across conflict and we went, nobody’s gonna back down on this. We went, let’s come back together in a week. And went with some time and some research. I think that’s probably some good advice. Give me a week. Yeah, yeah. And even then like neither, it’s not as though they were like fighting, fighting about it. And it was like a deal breaker or anything, but it was just,

year, well, there’s three of us. So it’s basically a vote. And, you know, if Sam was outvoted, he wasn’t going to hold it against either of us. Or if Alison was outvoted, she wasn’t going to hold it against us for the rest of our lives or anything. But there’s still pressure, right? Because I’m also a people pleaser. But interesting in perhaps more surrogacy teams where there’s the sorry, it has a partner and then the IPs are a couple as well. So there’s four, there is no deciding. Yeah, totally.

So, well, as we come to wrap it up, but Sam, have you got any parting advice then for those people listening at the beginning of their journey or some last parting things from your own journey you’d like pass on or have we covered it all? When you’re on your journey and you’ve got a surrogate and you’re talking about things and working stuff out, I guess just like you said earlier, like totally be aware that there are two sides and there are fears on both sides and like it’s a vulnerability for everyone involved, just like embrace that and go with it and try to have the best time you can

because realistically it’s important to be friends and to get along and to laugh about stuff and make funny memories that you can look back on. And, you know, like eventually we’re always gonna tell Charlie stuff at an age appropriate level. We’re never gonna lie to him about anything, but eventually like I want him to, you know, ask us questions and for us to invite Alison over and be like, you know, hey, like this is, this is your album, we’re making you and you’re the lovely cupcake that came out, whatever it is. And we want him to see that’s all laughing

about that so he knows that he was created with love and by love rather than fear and tension. And yeah, I can’t imagine that would ever be a positive experience, kind of feeding into that fear and things. So I think you’ve really just got to focus on making it as positive as possible. Lovely. And it sounds like, yeah, as you say, you’re thinking about the long-term, the story that Charlie has to tell. Roughly then, how often do you keep in touch with Alison? Do you get messages and stuff, of course, but how often do you see each other in person now? Just from time to time, like normal friends? Yeah. We’ve slipped into that.

proper like adult friendship level where all of a sudden you go, oh my God, it’s been four months and we haven’t, you know, chatted for a while. How’s life, how’s stuff going? You know, um, initially Alison and the kids would pop over quite a bit. Um, and like sometimes if I had a whole bunch of us to do in town, we live kind of just out of town. Um, I’d message Alison and be like, Hey, can Charlie and I drop in after I’ve done X, Y, Z? And she’d be like, oh, I’m, I’m home today. Why don’t you just leave them with me that way you can get the stuff done really quick and then come back. And that was great, you know, free babysitter and Elle loved it as well. Elle,

we’ve already lined Elle up. She’s going to be our main babysitter, I think. Give her a bit of cash and she loves Charlie a lot, so that’s good.

But yeah, I think that, you know, naturally we spent, you know, a fair bit of time together. And then that kind of as everything became normal again, just kind of became that, you know, we’re just lifelong friends now rather than this overbearing special like, quick, make sure that we’re spending time with Alison or her being like, I want to see the baby. It just became very chill and lovely. And I think that naturally happens once the enormous project ends for some. You settle back into just friends who catch up from time to time then. Definitely. Wonderful. Well, well done to you and your team. It sounds like you’ve done a fantastic.

thing friendship and love has brought Charlie into this world and he’ll go on knowing that and having you know Allison’s daughter as a babysitter in the future too. Oh yeah for sure. Thank you for joining me if you’d like to see the photos shared in this webinar presentation head over to our YouTube channel to watch the webinar you can head to surrogacyaustralia.org for more information about surrogacy.

Also check out our Zoom monthly catch-up sessions, which are a great way to connect with others in the surrogacy community. Attending a Zoom is scary the first time, but there’s only ever one first time. We have all been beginners at some stage. As we say, it takes a village to raise a child, and in the case of surrogacy, it takes a village to make a child. So welcome to the village.

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