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Episode 48 – Rachel – surrogate

Rachel, from Melbourne, birthed as a surrogate in Adelaide September 2022 for a couple who were strangers and now life long friends. Matt and Aldo are now dads to their son Ari and have embraced Rachel as part of their modern family. Rachel’s story is also unique as she has not had children of her own before surrogacy.

You can hear from one of her Intended Parents, Matt, on the YouTube recording when he was co-host on the webinar series.

This episode was recorded in March 2024.

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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? Consider joining SASS.

TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE

00:00
Thanks for watching!

00:15
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 we’ll take you through how surrogacy works in Australia. You can ask questions, typing them in anonymously if you prefer.

00:43
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 2024, features Rachel. Rachel from Melbourne birthed as a surrogate in Adelaide September 2022 for a couple who were strangers and are now lifelong friends. Matt and Aldo are now dads to their son Ari and have embraced Rachel as part of their modern family.

01:08
Rachel’s story is also unique, as she has not had children of her own before surrogacy. The photos mentioned in this webinar tell so many stories. I encourage you to look this episode up on our YouTube channel titled Surrogacy Australia. They include photos about how Rachel officially offered to be their surrogate. What’s the deal with eating McDonald’s fries after an embryo transfer? A stunning maternity photo where Rach says she felt like Beyonce.

01:32
There are so many wonderful reflections and insights, and I’m sure you’ll agree Rachel speaks so eloquently. She touched on topics like vomiting every day in pregnancy, a difficult midwife during labor, and her team advocating for her, the payment for a surrogate in terms of seeing the new parents with their extended families, how to navigate the change in hormones, and its ongoing, even many months post-birth. We talked about how the body keeps score, and it remembers the babies we’ve birthed, a topic we don’t talk about enough.

02:02
I hope you enjoy this episode.

02:03
Rachel, thank you for joining us. We’re going to talk through your journey tonight about being a surrogate. So I guess take us back to the beginning. Why did you want to be a surrogate in the first place? And then how did you find Matt and Aldo? The beginning for me was kind of 27, 28. I had this body clock thing happen where my body was like, Oh, you should have a baby. And I felt lucky and I was like, Oh gosh, no, I don’t, I don’t want my own kids. Just the thought of the financial responsibility, the like, well, how am I going to travel?

02:33
going to do all these like future plans. Also like this world that we live in is a scary place. I don’t want to bring my own child into that. I am not well equipped for raising a child to survive this world. But I was like, I really want to experience pregnancy. It’s something I’ve thought of since I was a kid. I’m very much a part of the LGBTQIA plus community. And I see people’s experiences, whether it be with gender, gender

03:03
babies but also the fact that same-sex couples can’t easily just get pregnant and have a baby and I was like well I have this body that does these things I am a cisgendered woman and I get regular periods so I can probably carry a baby so I started looking into it a friend of mine was already in the Facebook groups and I had seen her post outside of the Facebook groups that she was thinking of doing this thing and I reached out to her she invited me into the group and

03:33
and that’s when it all started. I just researched and I went in hard because by the time I was like actively part of the group, lockdown happened, so COVID happened. So I had all the time in the world to do my introduction and yeah, start talking to other people and that sort of thing. So after I had done my introduction, I was scrolling through the page as I did every day because I had no work, I had nothing better to do with my life. But like this was something I was very committed to.

04:03
just like I was scrolling because I had nothing better to do. I came across it was not the introduction post that Matt and Aldo had done, it was the second post that they popped up that was just we went to a vineyard with our family for lunch and we decided to tell them that we’re going to embark on this journey of becoming parents. So you know here’s a picture of us all and then I like clicked on their thing because I was like oh that’s super cute like they’re sharing about

04:33
went on their profile and saw their original post. I think I commented on it, something about the dogs. And then they obviously went and looked at my original post and put a comment on mine. And I was like, okay, so there’s a vibe. They commented back, I slid into their DMs. Just, I think I said something about the family or the dogs, let’s be honest. The dogs was one of the main things that brought us together for sure. Our friendship really started

05:03
radio on a LGBTQIA plus radio station, which you can access anywhere online. And they, even though they were in a different state, would listen to my station and therefore had listened to me. I started giving their dogs shout outs on the radio and it kind of went from there. And just like, yeah, really just built a bit of a, like a friendship around like silliness and stuff. But then as soon as I started asking questions about, well, how

05:33
like I would throw him a curve ball. We’d be talking about dogs one minute, the next minute, it was like, how do you feel about abortion? Yes. And that’s often how surrogacy chats work, isn’t it? In one hand, you’re getting to know your dog’s names, your favorite colors, your family and your work. And then the other hand, you’re like, yes, and how do you feel about termination of a pregnancy? Like it’s some really big conversations as well as getting to know each other, isn’t it? Yeah, so the Facebook group, some people had posted like questions that they’ve asked their IPs before. So I grabbed those questions

06:03
and you know picked out the bits that were important to me because as someone who hadn’t had kids before a lot of the things about what will you do for my children if I’m unable to care for them like what if I’m bed bound blah blah blah that sort of stuff for me was more like well so long as I get financial support to keep paying my rent um because my partner and I were not living together at the time we were still quite new in our relationship I adjusted the questions to fit my circumstances and I had talked

06:30
to other IPs before, but there was just something that really clicked with Matt and Aldo that made me want to continue talking to them about surrogacy. And it didn’t take long.

06:41
to be like, oh, I think I would now get jealous if someone else started talking to them because I, they were my people. And I was like, I couldn’t imagine, you know, having to go and search for someone else after meeting these amazing people. And there were just things that they would say about, you know, raising children that like inclusivity and like making a difference in the world, not just existing in the world kind of stuff. And I was just like, I feel this so deeply

07:11
parent that’s what I would want to be able to offer and and that’s why I went parenting isn’t for me because I can’t raise a kid that could change the world. So I think some really valuable things for people who perhaps are at the beginning listening to this is that yes obviously you found a clique and and the surrogacy things lined up but it was also talking about dogs and wineries and things that just found that connection so I think that’s really handy for IPs listening to hear that you just have to share stories about your life it doesn’t

07:41
that you’re up to and it will draw somebody to you. It could be your taste in 80s music or something else that’s a bit crazy that we do need to find a genuine friendship to connect with too and I was similar to you in terms of I sort of fell in love with my IPs at the beginning and I remember on the second date I think I essentially said I kind of want to offer to be your surrogate but I want to offer to date because I didn’t want them to be taken by anybody else. It sounds like you felt the same. Yeah I think we had the like exclusive conversation where it was

08:11
because I’ve kind of stopped talking to the other people and had been open with people being like, I’m dating around, I’m getting to know people. Yeah, I think we did have the conversation of like, this isn’t an official offer, but like, let’s work on this getting to being an official offer. And of course, being a surrogate in Melbourne, you, I guess you knew pretty early on that you couldn’t carry for people in Melbourne. So then you knew you had to look in those other three states, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. And so I guess that was part of your looking to

08:41
of what state they’re in. It was insane because the laws in South Australia changed the year that we met. Yes. Prior to that, I wouldn’t have been able to carry for them. So in my mind, I was like New South Wales and Queensland. And then this information came out about South Australia. So I grew up in Newcastle in New South Wales. So my mind went, well, if it’s someone in New South Wales, I have support systems up there as well. I have one like a set of grandparents that are still up there. But yeah, the South Australian laws change.

09:11
and I think it happened for us. Definitely, absolutely. I’ll claim it. Yeah, all for you. And being so unique too, not having had a child beforehand. Yeah, you guys were trailblazers for so many things. So I suppose there’s so much of a journey to capture there. Give us a rough timeframe. What month of the year was the first chats through to then you did the counseling and the legals and because the first photo that we’re going to head to is when you officially offered. Do you remember how many months it sort of was five or?

09:40
about that.

09:41
I think. Yeah. Yeah. It was kind of quick in the scheme of things, but in saying that we were on COVID time, so every week felt like a month. Yes, that’s true. Yes. It was actually the first time we got to spend a whole weekend together that I actually offered. So yes. Yay COVID. Yeah, yay COVID. Yes. That’s probably the perfect opportunity then to go back to the slideshow. And this is you officially offering them. Would you like to tell us how you officially offer?

10:11
We had gone out and I met their mums. They just were like…

10:15
desperate to meet me. So we all had coffee together at a cafe and it was delightful. The day previously or whatever we had just spent time hanging out. We did an escape room together to see if we could deal with each other in difficult situations and it was hilarious and we didn’t make it out of the escape room in time but we had a really good time. That’s actually how I offered. At the end of an escape room I had a little box prepared and I’d given it to the staff before we got there.

10:45
and I had them bring it to us at the end regardless of if we got out or not. So yeah, I think that’s a good thing with teams to challenge each other and see how you cope under stressful situations. So good fun. Anyway, you did the escape room and then you had met the mums that day and then back to their house in the evening, I’m guessing? Yeah, so we went back to their house. We were just sitting around chatting, probably having a glass of wine, knowing us.

11:08
I said, Oh, I’ve got a little present for you. So I brought this with me and I was like, if things go well, I’m going to do this. And so a lot of our conversations, not just about dogs, we spoke about music a lot as someone who works in radio, as two people, two very fabulous gay men, great taste in music, of course. So I got a friend.

11:29
to graphically design an album cover. It had Mariah Carey and Tina Arena, because Matt is the male version of Mariah Carey only without the voice. And Aldo got to meet Tina Arena, and I remember one of our early conversations, he sent like a picture of them together and said they spoke French to each other or something. So I made, got her to design their faces like together, like a proper album cover. And then on the back,

11:59
a list of songs that was all like little inside things of like, will it be a boy or a girl? But you know, much wittier. Would it be this particular name? Oh, like, let’s call him blah. And then yeah, other things that that hinted towards the final song that was, um, I want to have your baby. Right. I think that was the moment this picture I took, I actually videoed it, I’m pretty sure. And this is a screenshot of the video, um, of the moment they actually realized, because they’re like,

12:30
I didn’t know Mariah and Tina had done an album together. That’s really interesting. I was like, you should look at the songs on the back.

12:38
And this is so classic. I mean, some, some are going to just do it in a simple way. And that’s absolutely fine too. But for some of us, it’s there’s so much joy in the making of the moment. This is part of the offer, isn’t it? This is the gift. We are all very extra. We like our fun and our, our love language now is memes. So this, like this picture makes the perfect name, right? That’s true. You could use it for many things. Somebody says something at a work meeting or you could use it for anything. Well, let’s keep working through these wonderful photos of your

13:08
It seems like humor and joy and being extra is quite a big part of your team. What was going on here? Is this at Reprimand, the fertility clinic in Adelaide, having an embryo transfer or something? Yes, I think this was the week before. So I got the trigger shot. So they had been doing all the tests leading up to it and they were like, all right, we’re going to do a trigger shot. Whatever the trigger shot does, I don’t even remember. They explained it at the time, but whatever. Makes it more likely the baby’s going to take. And we were like, all right, well, we better get a photo

13:38
this moment and yeah, so the photo on the right hand side is obviously Matt giving me a trigger shot in my butt and on the left it’s like there’s gonna be a baby in there so it was a good moment that moment. Excellent, lots of joy among you guys and then for those that can’t see this photo, it’s all of you in a car with McDonald’s fries. This seems to be something in the surrogacy community, tell us about that. Okay so you need good luck right? Everyone has to have

14:07
And there’s lots of little good luck charms. So the idea is that if you eat Macca’s fries after your embryo transfer, and this isn’t just surrogacy, this is IVF in general. If you eat Macca’s fries, the baby is a hundred percent more likely to stick than if you don’t ask for us. So obviously all of us had to get Macca’s fries. And this is a picture, my partner is actually in it. She was not involved in the process at all up until pretty much transfer stage.

14:37
because we were so new in our relationship and she was like, oh, this is your thing, you do it. And so she didn’t do any counseling, anything like that. And she’s very well adjusted. She actually loves Ari and she doesn’t like children. So, he’s got a special spot in her heart then. And then some photos here announcing that you’re pregnant with t-shirts saying, cool, Aunty Rach. Yes, this was the best moment. So I knew from the second I left that clinic that I was pregnant. We drove back to Melbourne the following day

15:07
felt so like.

15:09
tired and nauseous and I thought I was just car sick, I get car sick. But Taryn, my partner, did the majority of the driving. But this was when we finally got to tell the world that it had worked. So first transfer on a natural cycle, the only thing that was unnatural was the trigger shot. Daddy and Papa had to get shirts made. And I said from the very, very beginning, as soon as we discussed surrogacy, I need to be not just Arnie Rach, but cool Arnie Rach. It’s really important for me to have the cool.

15:39
that said cool Aunty Rach and Taryn’s shirt is VSP and it’s very supportive partner. Excellent and she was during the whole journey hey? Yes. And then some more humor that goes along some some photos with their friends and family all pointing at your very pregnant belly and some doggies. Yeah so the dogs that’s um Fergus and Doug, Douglas and that was their announcement that they were going to be big brothers and at this point the boys had already gone out and purchased

16:09
bassinet thing. And so their dogs go to doggy daycare and often they’re very good at posing for photos. So they of course had to be in feather boas and party hats because they were very excited for this announcement. And then the photo on the right is Aldo’s family, who I’ve become incredibly close with. There was like three years in a row that I happened to be in Adelaide for Alana’s birthday, who is on the right of me with her hand on the

16:39
front of my belly and that is one of Aldo, one of Ari’s god parents now as well. And so I’ve just built such a lovely friendship with their families as well. And so this night we were actually going out for Marcus’s birthday, who is directly next to me, and this was approximately a week before I gave birth, but it was just like, I just felt part of the family and we all just happened to also be in black and white, not on purpose. Beautiful photos and beautiful stories. It’s loving to see all the team.

17:09
But speaking of beautiful photos, wow, you clearly had some maternity photos done during your pregnancy and what a queen you look like here. Do you, well how do you feel when you look at this photo?

17:20
I feel like Beyonce, it’s the only way that I can describe it. So this kink outfit was actually my 30th birthday dress. I had a drag wedding to myself where I married myself because my partner also doesn’t believe in marriage. So I was like, fine, I’ll marry myself. Because I was like, this is something that I may never do again. This is the most.

17:44
like insane thing I’ll probably ever do in my life. And I do lots of insane things. I really wanted to like capture this moment. And so I had this maternity shoot and my partner’s brother actually organized it. And we didn’t pay a cent because the photographer was just so, I don’t know, emotional about the story and stuff. And he normally photographs ballerinas and dancers. So I’m standing on this light box and being lit from underneath. And it was just magical.

18:13
Yeah. And then the other photo there was a board address off the internet and it actually was amazing. And I got to go to my friend’s wedding and at that wedding, so I was sick the entire pregnancy. I vomited every day for the whole pregnancy. And the only thing- You look good. You look good being pregnant, but clearly it disagreed with you. So how was the pregnancy? It was hard. Yeah.

18:38
Yeah, it was difficult and because I felt sick all the time, I was really tired and that sort of thing. So probably like more difficult than I was expecting, but I’d still do it a million times over. So it’s this hard like juggling thing of like, it was awful, but also the end result was so worth every second of awfulness. And at my friend’s wedding, she had had a baby two months prior. And when I held other people’s babies, I didn’t feel sick.

19:08
stole her baby and I just like held it on top of my tummy who at the time we were calling Flippo because the movement was insane, a very movie baby, never sat still for any ultrasound ever. Flippo at that wedding was was relatively well behaved because I had another baby there to hold. And then that brings us to as you say the moment that it all happened so here is birthday. How do you feel when you look at these photos? What are you thinking and remembering? Oh my god it was

19:38
So surrogacy is a marathon, but so is birth. Went through the public system and I don’t have anything bad to say, particularly about the women’s hospital here in Melbourne and also the women’s and children’s in Adelaide. Both the care and support and inclusivity as a couple with two, as a team, sorry, with two lots of same-sex couples, they were like crossing out words and rewriting them

20:08
if they said mother instead of surrogate like they did such a phenomenal job and then getting to this point it was euphoric this is probably a part

20:18
though where I would like to interject something that was actually really difficult that our team had to get through. So I had the fairy tale, my waters broke in the morning as I was getting out of bed and started progressing throughout the day. We managed to fly my partner from Melbourne across to Adelaide, she got here in time, got there in time. But by midnight, we had to go into the hospital and I had to get IV antibiotics because my waters had broken

20:48
hours previously and so they ended up inducing me, which then became infinitely more painful. They were having issues because of course we now know his name is Ari, but Flippo at the time was flipping around as Flippo does and they weren’t getting a steady heart rate and they were moving the monitors around on my stomach constantly and they’re like, don’t move, don’t do this,

21:18
monitors in and as a team we went okay like if that’s what means is going to be the best. However the midwife that we had in the room at the time she was very dismissive of us as a team and went to do a particular check and I was screaming at her to stop and

21:42
I was bawling my eyes out. The pain was beyond anything. Like it was worse than when I actually ended up pushing Ari out. And once she left the room, I like grabbed Taryn and I was like, you need to tell the boys to get her out of here. Like I might. I feel like the second that she walked into the room, my labor stopped.

22:03
And I was not progressing and she just there was a really awful energy about this woman. And she just was talking about working overseas all the time. And it was all about her. Anyway, Taryn did the eyes across the room. Matt picked up on it instantly. And he’s like, I know what I need to do. And he went out and he spoke to the head nurse. And within half an hour, we had an amazing midwife in there. And then the rest of the labor, while still painful, was nothing compared to that.

22:33
So that was just this really team thing and like we knew each other so well and we had amazing birth educators leading up to that point that said, you can advocate for yourself in that room and if something is not going the way that you think it should, say something and if all else fails, you can go and speak to the supervisor and we were at the like, she can’t come back into this room or I will have a complete meltdown. So that was a really strong moment that we worked together.

23:03
as a team and then pretty much once we got to the pushing part, everything’s a little bit of a blur, but the midwife convinced one of them to go down the business end and watch it happen. Oh, I think it was Matt and touch his head, touch Ari’s head as he was coming out and he was like, Ooh, and I think there is actually like a picture that our photographer got of him being like, Ooh, I’m like gonna touch it.

23:32
I like euphorically wahooed with joy. And then as they passed Ari through my legs and up onto my chest, I was like, we did it, we did it. And that’s just the best feeling in the world of being like as a team, we got through this moment. Oh my God. And all of us are unscathed. So yeah. Oh, so many wonderful things I could comment on here. But just on that, that incident that happened, again, a testament to your team that the friendship that you had built up,

24:02
even with strangers here, people who had been strangers, that you knew each other so well and they could advocate for you in that moment and help out to know each other that well. And it’s not like, oh, well, they’re a medical professional. We must believe them all. It’s like, no, you can ask for somebody to be different and you’re the birthing person. And yeah, so those priorities come there.

24:21
What a beautiful story here as a team. And I remember that feeling that it was the, we did it. All these people brought this life into this world. Your first birth. Oh my gosh. It was wild. Just like, I’m so glad that I got to do it naturally as well. Like that was a really big thing for me and I didn’t have an epidural. I had gas and they gave me fentanyl. I’m under the belief fentanyl is a placebo. It does nothing. Cause those moments definitely felt like it did nothing, but all of that.

24:49
just disappeared the second that that baby came up on my chest. And then we start to navigate through some photos of life going on, don’t we? So then there’s the first few months post-birth and you stayed in Adelaide for a little while and then catch-ups here as a team with little Ari. Yeah, so Ari came at 37 weeks and four days. So he was a little bit early, which was actually a really great blessing because we had organised to be there until a particular period of time.

25:19
I’m so bad with dates and numbers, you can’t tell. Not a maths teacher. So we got to spend a week together in their home, which… So I went to them to birth, which most people don’t do based on the fact that they have kids and their family needs family. But for me, I really wanted to be there because part of this payoff for me was I had built this relationship with their families as well.

25:49
I wanted to see them with this baby that I had been growing for them. I wanted to see everyone as a family doing this family thing together. So our post-birth time was the best. Like when I got to see them meeting, you know, their grandson or their nephew, just like I welled up with tears because I saw how happy they were. And those moments and just seeing the pride in, you know,

26:18
their other family members was just like, I was like, yes, this was everything I needed. And then we got to, we house sat around the corner, which was perfect. I even had some of my friends from Melbourne come across and we did, we had to do a Barossa tour because of course we love wine and I was allowed to drink again. So we took Ari on his first Barossa tour. Then this picture here was the weekend before Taryn and I came back to Melbourne and we

26:48
an extra special weekend together, of course, I had a winery, and took Ari out and just, yeah, it was just like, I loved going out afterwards and people being like, oh, beautiful baby. And then the whole like, well, this is our surrogate who carried this baby. And I was like, I loved those moments and seeing people’s faces and reactions and stuff was, yeah, really heartwarming.

27:10
of so many things that you’re saying there that are so valuable for people to hear is that that’s sometimes the payment for a surrogate is watching our friends be parents and showing off them being parents so as they then get to hand their child to their own mother or father or sisters and cousins and friends that that’s the payment so I think that’s really important for teams to factor in if they can some time for the surrogate to be there while the friends and family meet the child too because seeing the joy on other people’s faces is what gives us joy going I helped to make that

27:40
Yeah, really special. Do you happen to remember how long you stayed post-birth? It ended up being five weeks So it was a really like great period of time and even just the amount that he grew in that time as well Like as someone who hadn’t had my own kids, I was like, this is mind-boggling And then of course then the next time we saw him I was just like

28:01
like an actual infant child, not a newborn. And yeah, the whole first year was just mind boggling every time we did get to see each other. You happen to remember roughly in that first year, the frequency that you saw each other, they would come to you, you would go to them. And how often? I think it ended up.

28:19
being roughly every three months, sometimes it was two months. There were times where, so I actually experienced a really horrific traumatic event, post-birth, nothing to do with birthing. And there were a couple of times where I just was like, I just need to be out of my Melbourne brain and I need to be back with my chosen family. So there were times when I just was like, can I come for a weekend? And I was able to get in my car and just drive to Adelaide and just be with them

28:49
it was really healing for me as post-birth, but also as like post-trauma, to be able to be with these people that I have shared, you know, shared the most intimate piece of my life with them. So, you know, they were then able to like have support for me during a traumatic period as well, which was, yeah, really, really special. And again, a testament to the friendship that you’ve built up there together. As, yeah, we come towards some of the last photos here,

29:18
always, always, we just have, we just have fun. And like, even if we’re just sitting around their dining table, we’re having fun. And like, it doesn’t mean that there’s not serious moments and stuff that occur. It’s just that like, we’re such, we just get each other so well that anytime a serious moment might come up, we can, we just are able to deal with it. And I think it’s a testament to all of our communication as well. We’re all really good at saying,

29:48
going through a bad time right now, yeah, like being able to message them and be like, hey, can I just come to Adelaide this weekend? And they’re like, we have a room for you, that’s fine. Like, and that means the world to me, like to have that relationship as well. For me, it’s not even like necessarily about the surrogacy anymore. Like, yes, I do sometimes get those moments where I’m like, I just, I just need to hold Ari. I just want him there so I can be like, you’re a real

30:18
just that like being around these people that I have like gotten to know so intimately as well. It’s very special and it’s different to anything. It’s not family, it’s not friends, it’s beyond either of those. It’s a surrogate and it’s unlike nothing you’ll do with anybody else. Yeah. Well thank you for sharing those beautiful photos. Rachel you mentioned there about you know even now sort of 15, 16 months post-birth seeing each other from time to time and occasionally you have sort of these waves of oh I want to say

30:48
not only as the adult, seeing my friends and hanging out, but then Ari, how has that been for you post-birth as somebody who hasn’t had a child before? And have you felt the pull and the calling to the child? Is it what you expected? Did it last the first three months post-birth or did it last longer? Yeah, I feel like not enough people talk about beyond the fourth trimester. So there’s like, everyone’s like, the fourth trimester. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a fourth trimester. A trimester is literally three, but the fourth trimester is those three months post-birth

31:18
do you navigate the change in hormone and getting back into your reality and that sort of thing. And as a team, we talked about the fourth trimester a lot, because that was the thing that made me the most anxious. I was like, I haven’t had a baby before. I don’t know what this is going to feel like. And you know, I’m a bit scared about it. Let’s be as prepared for all of the worst case scenarios as possible. It’s actually, so we got through the fourth trimester and I, of course I had emotional days where for no reason at all.

31:48
whatever, and that’s because hello hormones. Um, and it’s a really normal thing. And there’s something really special about being connected with other surrogates where you can talk about that though, where you can go, are these things that I am feeling and experiencing something that other people feel and experience? Or do I need to go see a GP? Like knowing the difference between I’m just having like a hormonally emotional day versus I might need extra support, um, was really important, but then beyond

32:18
trimester, sometimes I just miss them. I still get the phantom kicking in my tummy sometimes at night, like where I just go, oh my gosh, remember when I was lying here and I could feel that like for real? And it’s like, I probably just have gas and should just do a fart. But it makes me go, oh my gosh, that was such a special time. Like how amazing was that? And then sometimes then that makes you go, oh, I miss that. I miss either being pregnant or I miss being in their home.

32:48
I missed that week post-birth where we all just cried at how tiny babies shoes can be and like little things that we really just like connected over. There are still moments that we feel big feelings and I a couple of weeks ago just had a day and I just was feeling I was in a funk and I couldn’t put my finger on it. And it was a Saturday and that’s like my one day off. I should be out doing fun things and I just I didn’t want to go anywhere and I didn’t want to do anything.

33:18
was to just like hug Ari and…

33:21
I’m getting emotional about it now because it was just this weird feeling. And I posted in the group and I was like, does anyone else ever just randomly go, oh, I just miss my sorrow, baby. Not because I want to keep him because I don’t want to keep him. They tell me that he’s a pest. So please keep him. Fowler. Hold on. But I just wanted to, like, I don’t know, have that moment where I was back in that that space and I could hug him and I could know that he is still real. And every all of that.

33:51
positivity that I think about was all real and I just had a big crying day and I just was super emotional and then I posted about it in the surrogate group and then everyone was like oh my god yes me too. Some people said it happens particularly when they’re ovulating or you know coming up to like milestones of like their transfer day or whatever and they won’t even be thinking about it and then all of a sudden they’ll you know just get this urge to like see the baby and stuff

34:21
people who see their their sorry babies fortnightly on a regular basis and they still get those days and I was encouraged to then post it in the main group and just be like this happens and like I had reached out to the guys and I was like I just really miss you today and I saw them you know with a picture of him at swimming lessons and I was just like swimming lessons that’s so cute like I would I would love to take him for a swimming lesson or whatever it is like whatever there was just like this yearning of my soul that

34:51
when not being there is hard. And that’s something that the distance does really affect as well, is can’t just pop over the afternoon tea and like squishing of the cheeks. I have to plan days off work and that sort of thing. So that’s the only downside I would say to the interstate surrogacy thing, is like sometimes distance. Distance requires more planning and more planning means that in moments like that, you can’t just be there.

35:21
or a message or a phone call or something to help. I think that’s really valuable that you shared that in those groups, the surrogates groups, the main groups to show that this is a perpetual journey, isn’t it? Just doesn’t end a few months post birth. We just never know when these waves are going to come hit us. Yeah, it’s a really primal thing, isn’t it? Yeah, yeah. And there’s like no specific explanation of why I woke up that day and I just went, like I just feel, and you know, I almost wanted to have a tantrum or something.

35:50
And then I was like, oh no, I feel this way because I’m missing them and I’m missing that moment of my life that was so positive and glorious. Yes, and I do think this is something, sometimes we don’t talk about as much. I know for me, running these webinars, it’s so much about helping people at the beginning and setting them on the right path. But I think it’s really valuable to hear these stories about time post-birth of the realities of surrogacy. These are babies that our bodies birthed. And even though our head and our heart know where they are.

36:18
We didn’t want to raise a child, but our bodies, remember, what is the saying? Our body keeps score. Oh yeah. Yeah, and so there’s this connection that I think we have to be sensitive to, that we all try and navigate, and that’s why it’s so important to keep in contact with each other. Not only so for the child that grows up knowing their story, but also for our bodies that doesn’t have a voice, so to speak. Seeing that child and being a part of their life and physically being with them from time to time is powerful. I’ll ask you, I don’t know if this is a tricky question then, so here are some of the challenging parts, and there’s also the highs

36:48
birth. Is it something you would do again? It’s so funny. The couple of days post-birth, I was like, no way. Cause I was still remembering all the sickness and I was like, Oh my God, that birth was like a lot. But now like, I think it took two months. And I was like, yeah, I’ll do it again. But there is a but I need that. I feel like because I love these guys so much, if it’s not for them, it has to be someone as good as them.

37:18
into it again or it would be if you know my brother and his wife weren’t able to have kids or something like you know a different sort of like connection because I just find the value of the connection of surrogacy is what I get out of it. Absolutely. So does that mean- So it’s not altruistic because I get something. It’s so true isn’t it? Yes the same with me it was that if I was ever to do it again it was that because my dads didn’t want a sibling was that the same with Matt and Aldo or still undecided?

37:48
that they’ve got Ari and he’s.

37:51
ball of fun, he’s going to be a sass monster, I can see it now. I think maybe it might be a one and done. That’s what it was for my dads and but I remember thinking you know the amount of time we put in you know two and a half year journey and we felt that we did it well it was still had challenges, it’s like I would expect to do that again and I don’t know if I have the energy or the time to build that up with somebody else because they’re different as well so yeah it’s a complicated thing isn’t it? For me it was that yes birth is hard but I quite like being pregnant and giving

38:21
just give birth once a month, you know, that would fulfill that high for me, but you can’t just do that.

38:26
And I like to think that if I did do it again, I wouldn’t have the all day sickness all day every day, but who knows because bodies, huh? Yes, and that’s it. And some surrogates sign up for it because they had pretty smooth pregnancies like me, but then you never know what you’re gonna get. Yes, well, we’ll wrap it up very shortly. We’ve had a wonderful chat tonight. To summarize it then for us, Rachel, is there anything else you’d like to say about that your team did well or found challenging or parting advice for people? I just, I think there is just so much

38:56
the getting to know you phase. And I think it’s important to talk to lots of different people as well. Like get to know different things because then you get to know what actually you might find doesn’t align with you or is a bit of an it or like that sort of thing. Cause yeah, I, there was an old school friend who popped up in the group at one point. And I was like, how funny would this be? Like this would be a full circle moment. But then the more that we talked, I was just like,

39:26
Ah, probably not for me. So I think it’s, yeah, there’s a lot to be said about finding the right people. Is there a way to know when it’s right then? I think it’s like relationships, like dating. Would I marry these people if I was attracted to men and they weren’t already married to each other? Sure, of course I would. Like, do we fundamentally align with our morals and values? And like, if the world ended whilst we were in the birth suite and it was just the five of us

39:56
Like the two of them me and my partner and the baby could we make it work? I guess like, you know, you know, if we’re the only five people left in the world. Yeah, we would love each other So that’s classic And I think it’s almost that point when you feel like the idea of them going off and finding another surrogate or you finding Other IPs when that gets to that point where I don’t want that to happen That probably feels like it’s the right click that they meant to be your people Yeah, I can see the question here about how many transfers we only had one Yes so

40:26
They were very fortunate and had quite a number of viable embryos. And the clinic just said, we’re picking the one that’s got the five AAA, I don’t know, whatever it was, you know, gold star looking embryo. And they were really happy with it. They were happy with the way that my body had progressed through my cycle. We actually stayed a couple of extra days. I think they put it off by three days to ensure that my body was at the perfect moment.

40:56
and we did the transfer. I’ll just add my data gathering on that. About 55% of teams by my data gathering have it happen on the first transfer and about 90% of teams have it within three. Yeah. So that’s interesting. So I often say to IPs, you’d want at least three embryos is often a good starting point there. We know it only takes one, but you ideally need to have more than one. Yeah, definitely. Perhaps we’ll finish on the last question here. Anonymous asks, did the process ever make you question your decision to not have children? This person doesn’t want kids and they’re worried about having

41:26
Surrobub might change their feelings. So you knew you didn’t want kids before, since having had Ari, has it changed your feelings at all? Not of my own. I love other people’s kids. I love Ari, but I love giving them back and I love my sleep-ins and I love that my money is my money. Like, no, it hasn’t changed my mind about being a parent. I do think in the future, my heart has the room for maybe foster care or something, but I don’t, I don’t need to be,

41:56
mom. Yeah because you’re a surrogate mother. Yeah I’m cool auntie Rach. You are cool auntie Rach, yes you are.

42:02
Well, cool, Aunty Rach, I think that’s a wonderful note to end on there. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, hearing you speak with such pride and joy and emotion. I hope it’s been a nice evening for you to recap that journey that you’ve been on. Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It’s been fun, I love reliving it. And I’m always open for surrogates to ask questions as well. I’m an open book. As I said, I do radio, so people know everything about my personal life, so no question is too deep.

42:32
Thank you for sharing your time with me for this episode. If you’re 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 individualized 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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