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Episode 52 – Nikita – surrogate

Nikita’s SASS team are the first that we have supported from their introduction (January 2021) through to birth and now beyond for a year. Nikita birthed as a surrogate in Brisbane, QLD in October 2023 for a couple who were initially strangers and are now life long friends. They had a little girl, Isabelle, and her parents are Menaka and Simon who live on the Gold Coast.

This episode was recorded in April 2024.

This episode also marked our 100th webinar! I’ve been hosting free webinars for 3 years since April 2021. Initially weekly, then joined by co-hosts after the first couple, and eventually moving to fortnightly. What an honour to have provided this resource to the community and to have had so many co-hosts share their journey and experiences. Here’s to the next 100! Anna xx

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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!

00:14
Welcome to Surrogacy Australia’s podcast series. I’m your host, Anna McKie. Thank you for sharing your time to listen to this episode. These recordings are from the regular one-hour free webinars that I run, which I invite you to attend if you haven’t already. They take you through how surrogacy works in Australia, including how to find a surrogate or intended parents. There are opportunities to ask questions, and you hear from a co-host each time about their own journey.

00:41
This episode, recorded in April 2024, features Nikita. Nikita’s SASS team are the first that we have supported from their introduction, January 2021, through to birth, and now beyond for a year. Nikita birthed as a surrogate in Brisbane, Queensland, in October 2023 for a couple who were initially strangers and are now lifelong friends. They had a little girl, Isabel, and her parents are Menaka and Simon who live on the Gold Coast. Nikita expands on topics like

01:09
how to get a reluctant partner on board, navigating five embryo transfers across a 12th month period and how a dream she had had years ago was her motivation to keep going, ongoing counseling as a team and individually after two transfers each time, and then ongoing during pregnancy and post-birth. That’s all part of our SASS model and recommendations too, by the way. Having a debit card for expenses linked to a joint SSAS account. Nikita makes reference to growing families.

01:37
who run seminars in capital cities a few times a year with the large annual conference in June each year. A Facebook group, ASC, Australian Surrogacy Community, and SASS, Surrogacy Australia’s support service, which I encourage you to join if you’re looking for more individualized support, to be connected with a mentor, to help surrogates and IPs, intended parents, to find the right match, and also to connect with me to help guide you on a journey.

02:01
This webinar was also extra special as it marked 100 webinars for me. I’m proud to have delivered 100 free webinars to the community over the last three years since April, 2021. They were initially weekly with just me hosting, and then I’ve been joined by co-host after those first few, and then I moved to Fortnightly after about a year and a half, so it might take me quite a while now to reach the next 100 webinars.

02:24
So thank you if you have listened to one, attended one webinar, listened to this podcast, been a co-host on those webinar series. I’m so humbled and thankful that people have shared their stories with me in the community so that we can spread the word about surrogacy and help to normalize it. To celebrate those 100, the following webinar, I was interviewed myself and we talked about my journey as a surrogate and I was interviewed by surrogate and great friend of mine, Danny.

02:49
I’ll be converting that into a podcast at some point in time. So keep your eye out for that. If you’d like to hear about my journey in much more depth and detail, it goes for quite some time. I think I’ll have to make it two episodes. So thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy this episode with Nikita.

03:04
So Nikita, why did you decide to be a surrogate in the first place and how did you go about trying to find IPs? Well, it’s something I thought about since I was at high school. I had a couple of friends who were considering whether their fertility would be an issue for them in the future. They didn’t know yet because we were 15, 16, but we were always talking about…

03:24
having a family and things like that. And yeah, a couple of them had had family with problems conceiving. Um, so they were like, well, what do we do if it happens to us? And, and I just said to one of my friends on day, don’t worry, I’ll have your babies for you. I was 16. So then once I’d had.

03:41
Sophie, I then attended the growing families conference in Brisbane and said, yeah, actually this is something I do really want to do one day. I realized at that point I had to finish having my own kids. So I took a bit of a backseat in the community and just learned quietly for about five years. Five years. So let’s people absorb that. So when we say marathon, not a sprint, you were sitting in the community and by that, do you mean that ASC community? Yeah. Wow. And learning and were you engaging much with people or just absorbing some of the stories? Mostly just absorbing.

04:11
make any, I didn’t message a single person. I went to meets and met people in person, but I didn’t message a single person online. And so I suppose if your husband Chris had been hesitant about it, you had certainly given him a long time to get used to this idea. Oh, he was, he was very hesitant. Okay. It wasn’t something that he could even think about until we’d finished our family. Sure. Kept like, I was like, all right, I know you’re not ready for sarcasm, but if you were, would we be looking for gay dads or a straight couple? Yes. And just asking questions like that for about five years.

04:41
Was that a good way to get partners on board, just slowly giving them information and questions over time, do you feel? Definitely, it was what worked for him. Yeah, it’s same in my situation too there. So then eventually when you’d had your youngest and had your son, it’s sort of like, I mean business now. I was still pregnant. You were still pregnant when you were like, okay, this is my third child. Okay, Chris, now we need to get serious about this. Yes, and so then what were your steps? As you had mentioned, you had been in the community, but you ultimately joined SASS. Yeah, so I started like stepping it up a gear and looking more closely at internet.

05:11
parents in the community and I was just overwhelmed. So how is this my job to pick and choose and figure out who’s ready and who’s got the same timeline as I do, who’s going to meet all of my needs and my family’s needs and be on the same page as us. So I did stand up at a seminar in 2016 and say, is there a service for this? And they said no.

05:34
So then when SASS started, I was like that, that’s what I need. Yeah, I joined SASS to put all of those, that data in the same form. So all of those IPs in the same format for me. So I could look and say, yes, these ones will meet my needs. These ones do have the same ideas and ideas of future as I do. And then could go from there. Yes. And as you know, and I know, so creating those profiles that all look the same, but obviously then the answers are, you know, whatever is unique to each of those IP teams, it helps to sort of standardize it a little bit.

06:04
more doesn’t it and then their written profile has their pictures and what they write and so that separates people a bit but yes as you say it’s a quick way of seeing which people are on the same page with things like termination or amounts of contact or all of those sorts of things isn’t it? Definitely that’s what I needed. So then I know how this journey rolls then because then I got to do the introduction a couple of years ago my goodness and so then what happens is that you chose your IPs and then I go to them a very joyful day and say sorry

06:34
it’s chosen your profile, would you like to obviously have a look at her profile and see if you choose her back? And they did and then we did the introduction didn’t we? That was the longest month of my life, it was around Christmas so we were like, they’re like yes but let’s just get through Christmas and New Year’s first. I remember it was January yep and we got to it and I remember I mean I was sitting here in this room I’m sure when I we did this introduction and do you remember that day doing that introduction? Yeah all four of us in hindsight talking afterwards we all walked away going this is it like we knew

07:04
at that first meeting on zoom oh me too i just remember Menaka how beautiful she was engaging and asking questions and the connections that you were making there and so for me each time i do an introduction it’s like this could be the day everybody’s lives change this could be baby that come from this moment and i think we even probably did a screenshot of of the conversation maybe so to have that in time

07:27
So then I suppose it begins, wasn’t it? So you, in theory, are on the same page with your profiles. And so then you spend time getting to know each other, just catching up and learning each other as people, but then also talking surrogacy stuff. So is that what you guys did for a… Yeah, we spent probably six, six, six to eight months just driving to each other’s houses and hanging out for a few hours.

07:47
sleepovers and just spending time together getting to know each other and then we’re at our favorite spot, I don’t know if anyone knows Brisbane, our favorite spot is Hamilton on the Brisbane River, kind of halfway. So we met there one day and the kids are wild and on scooters and gone and we just sat down for a minute and I said well I don’t see a reason not to continue, so let’s just organically do the next step and just see where it takes us. Wonderful, yes so that was sort of the romantic

08:17
I guess in that process then, did it go as planned? So you were, you are officially, this is the first SASS introduced team that had then seen it through and had a baby in six months post-birth now. So slow. It was so slow. And now we look back and it’s just whizzed by, I’m sure. But what parts were slow? Doing the counseling and legals and the dating? Is that what you mean? No, the counseling and legals were fast. We just took the next available appointment of everything and between four to seven very, very busy schedules, we finally managed to fit it all in.

08:46
And then transfers just took so long. So try and summarise for people listening that didn’t ride that journey with you. How many embryo transfers and spread across how long a period? Five transfers with almost 12 months to the date. Wow. Between like over the five of them. Yes. We would make a plan with the fertility specialist and then like the plan would be, okay do three transfers then we’ll stop and…

09:10
talk. So then we’d do two and she’s go let’s talk now instead and pause us for two months. Yeah. So we tried meds, we tried no meds, we tried back on the meds, there was a blotted ovum, there was many many pregnancy tests. And so the one that worked was there something unique and different that happened in that particular time do you think or it’s a guessing game? Guessing game. Yeah. How many embryos did they have Ola? Nine. Okay so every time you’re having one you’ve taken one out of the freezer right? Yeah. So the embryo that could was a day

09:40
embryo. We call it our scraping the barrel embryo. By this transfer, we were just so just doing the process. So we’re like, I didn’t do any preparation. I didn’t do any acupuncture like I had been doing. We just last minute just all went, but the Menaka and I just went in there and we’re like, it’s not going to work anyway. Let’s get it done. And it worked. Wow. Did you start to think this is not going to work? Yep. And what do you do with that thought process then? I then had to have a conversation with them.

10:06
Like we’d spoken with Narelle right at the start. I said, she was like, what are you going to do if you burn through nine embryos? And we’re just like, we’re not going to burn through nine embryos. Now for context, Narelle Dickinson is one of the major Queen B’s of surrogacy counseling in Brisbane, Queensland. So that’s Narelle. Yeah. So you had that question. What if you burn through nine? That’s not going to happen. Wait, nine? Who goes through nine? I’m average. I’ll be pregnant within three. This is fine.

10:29
So then we were faced with that, what if we burn through nine embryos? We’re going to burn through nine embryos. So we had to have a conversation about what’s next. Are these nine embryos the end?

10:39
Will there be egg donation in the future? And we kind of landed on, we’ll just keep going. But I got them to start researching. As I said, I don’t need an answer yet, but I would like you to start researching what’s involved. So if we do get to it, you are one step ahead. Yeah, that’s good. Did you have a team counseling with Narelle or people had individual sessions? But yeah, we saw Narelle every second transfer and then all through the pregnancy. Oh, let’s unpack that a bit more. I think that’s great advice. So after every two transfers, having a check-in session, that’s a really great idea

11:09
go, hmm, what’s not working? How are we feeling? What’s the plan? Because it might have changed what we thought was gonna be the plan. Now we’ve had two fails. Exactly.

11:15
might need to adjust. Okay so then eventually you did get pregnant with Isabelle that’s snipe. Yay! And so let’s go back to those beautiful photos there we’ve got here well we’re just going to jump ahead to some paternity photos right so you guys spent some time together as a team getting some photos done? Yeah that was at 37 and a half weeks I’d said through the whole pregnancy I was having her at 38 weeks. Okay. That was when I had time that was school holidays.

11:39
and then I got COVID about probably like caught it that day. Wow crazy so you got some beautiful photos snuck in there. How do you feel when you look at these photos? They look like some fun times together? Yeah we had fun and yeah it was good to get all of us in together with my husband there because he’s never around but he’s a truck driver. Yes he travels for work isn’t he so it’s good to have him there. Yeah so it’s great to have the photos all together.

12:02
the cake one’s the baby shower with Zach hiding behind the cake. Oh I’ve already just noticed him there, yes he missed it. In amongst it. So that was great to meet all of Menaka’s friends and her support systems, that was really cool. And then the big one I must have been 40 weeks over it, ready to be done. And so how many weeks along were you when you had Isabel? Over two, 41. Oh you got to 41, yes. Wow, you cooked her well. And then we get to the day of birth.

12:32
photos. Birth was amazing. I had, so I had just recovered from COVID. I think I had a little bit of gastro. So I woke up and I was like every morning, because I birth at night time, so I woke up every morning, ugh I’m still pregnant. So I woke up and I had a bit of cramping and I was like this, this gastro just will not finish, like let’s move on. So I went to the toilet, I came back, I went back down, I was like oh still cramping. So this is like 5 30 in the morning, I was like but I don’t have babies in daytime, what is, what is happening? Um so by, that must

13:02
I rang Menaka from, they were staying about seven minutes away at a Airbnb. I carried my five-year-old from my bed to my sister’s bed. The girls were having a sleepover and my midwife’s like, you should have told me you’re the girls were having a sleepover cause then I would have known you were having a baby. Yeah. By seven, we were in the car to get to the hospital at 7.30. I labored Menaka helping with some acupressure points. Um, I’d been to a acupuncturist who reckoned he has 95% accuracy in getting babies out within 48 hours.

13:32
and he gets to keep his stats because it worked. Okay. Because we were pretty done by that point. When I got to the hospital, she was not engaged. I was in labour but she wasn’t engaged. By the time I got into the shower, she was engaged. And I looked at Menaka and I said, are you ready? Because she’s coming.

13:51
Like one minute later, I made it into the water at 8.34. At 8.39, she was out. You’d only been in the hospital for about an hour, just an hour. Yep. Wow. That would have been 8.40. You had a daytime baby. Yep. Wow, well done. And so you made it into, so you had a water birth? Had a water, barely, but I had a water birth.

14:10
Wonderful, well done. And do you remember looking at this photo of yourself? Do you find joy and laughter in it? I much joy. I have no idea what the midwife said to me. I think she probably said, you did it. You made a family. And that’s just, that photo is everything. The student midwife to the left was blown away and my midwife was so proud of me.

14:29
And they’re the beautiful moments. And then as well, and then I suppose this is part of handover, isn’t it? This is you making a- Kind of, yeah. We did like a soft handover. Oh yeah, no, that was after the handover, yeah. We cuddled in bed afterwards, after I’d had a shower. Yep, without a baby inside you. And then your whole team here, big beaming smiles on the midwives faces there too. So you did it after all these years, thinking about being a surrogate, and then even as your own team with many transfers, there’s that photo, hey? Made a family. And she spent, that was the other thing in pregnancy,

14:59
was breached until 36 weeks. So when we were meant to have an ACV at like 36 and 2 and at 36 on the dot, we were taking those photos. So no, that was 37, the start of 37 weeks. We had the ACV booked for the Monday, the photos on the Saturday.

15:16
And on the Sunday we went and got a sneaky scan and she was head down. Wow, so she turned. Had you noticed her turn? Nope. Fantastic. Oh, good girl. She did the right thing there so you could have a good birth. Right, hence not been engaged, not been ready. No, she hadn’t been there for long. Beautiful. And then life starts to go on. So they’ve got some photos here of some cuddles. Look at her, so little there on the left photo. How do you feel when you look at these photos? Oh, it just takes you straight back to those moments of the snuggly little newborn and her looking at me.

15:46
like that in that second one. Just yeah sneaking away while the kids were at school so I could go and get a halfway hug with her. Yes and I suppose if there’s any brand new people listening you know some of the classic questions are oh did you feel attached though? I felt so attached like so much wanting this little baby to be here and then so right that she went with her parents. It was like watching

16:09
The whole way through it was like watching it happen to someone else, watching it happen to my friends. And then especially that moment, those newborns was like holding my friends baby. And so then, yeah, you still get to have those really special cuddles and moments with her. That’s one of my favourite ones where she’s grinning at me at about the six weeks old. Yeah, we like to think that they’re hopefully remembering our voices and things like that. And then some photos here. Is that the first birth certificate? And then the… That’s the first birth certificate. We didn’t even put the baby in the photo.

16:36
and then the parentage order. Yes, and so for anyone that’s brand new, that’s often a thing people go to court together to finalize the official parts of surrogacy ending. But then it doesn’t end there, does it? Life goes on and there’s continued catch-ups with your kids and her. So how do your kids view her and Menaka and Simon? What’s their position in her life? They absolutely adore them. Zach still calls her baby Lewis. Oh, right. Like two of them. And so then you guys made a point of getting to spend time together.

17:05
over the pregnancy and stuff too so that they’ve become.

17:09
like extra family or sort of auntie and uncle sort of connection? Absolutely that’s what we were aiming for was that auntie uncle close friendship that will always be in each other’s lives and it goes with the goes with the flow sometimes that’s three times a week sometimes it’s two times in three months. Yes I was gonna ask that because you’re about an hour or so away from each other or? Yeah nearly two. Nearly two now because you’ve moved recently so yes how frequently now it’s six months or so post-birth would you see each other or as you’re saying does it depend on school holidays and that sort of stuff too sometimes? Yeah school holiday

17:39
and now we’ve got four children to battle the diseases of. Oh that’s true yes yes it’s your three kids your IPs who are now peace they have to navigate their child as well don’t they? Yeah so we try to meet halfway for lunch about once a month at the moment. With kids or without kids? Whatever happens. Yes absolutely you did it Nikita well done. Cody has typed in and asked during pregnancy how often or how many extra counseling sessions did you have also

18:09
do group sessions? Yeah, so I did one by myself before I spoke to Monika about going to donor eggs. I spoke, had a big conversation, a big one-on-one counselling with Narelle that before that and I just cried for the whole hour. But we sorted it out. And otherwise we tried to do the one to trimester. Great. Yep. And then at the end of pregnancy, we booked in the random council that we have to see straight after birth. The idea was that we’re all together for it about two weeks post-birth. We’re like, we know this is super early, but we’re just

18:38
and then we booked in a counselling session at the same time with Narelle for three months post-birth. Nice. So that one three months post-birth was that as a team? Yeah that was our big team debris. That’s wonderful and just back to the sessions you had during pregnancy when you said about once a trimester was that as a team or individually? It was mostly Menaka and I. Oh yeah okay and that sometimes might happen more in a hetero relationship where it’s an intended mum they’re often the project manager of these sorts of things and the connection between the surrogate and the mum is often where the strong part is so it

19:08
dynamic there. Yeah and there usually wasn’t much to talk about. We usually finish them early but we’re always glad to be there and have had it ready just in case. Yeah I think that’s a good sign. Often if you do follow that sort of recipe if you like for how often to have things you find you don’t need it but if you’re glad you’ve had it type of thing. In case there is something to discuss it’s already booked in and you know it’s coming. Yeah. Are there any other elements of SASS that you found the structure that was provided there helpful for your team? Was the counseling for example was part of that or any

19:38
else that springs to mind? Yeah it meant level of checking with Menaka that I knew that I could just go and do it. So when I had all these other worries. It was away. When things did go a little bit pear and be like do I need to be here for them do on their own and she was able

20:05
really good to have that support system. Oh yeah thank you that’s good feedback and and I know for some of the other teams I support the IPs and the surrogate and so sometimes for one team it might be the surrogate I’m messaging more but for another team it might be the IPs that are asking the questions in those sort of private messages along the way so yeah that’s that’s lovely to hear. Yeah I absolutely felt like my life was on hold to answer all the questions my life was on hold during the 12 months of embryo transfers because I was on hormones and some of them you have to use three

20:35
a tablet it’s you’ve got to go to the bathroom you’ve got to be ready to carry all this extra stuff and these extra steps and um yeah it was definitely fatiguing as well because it wasn’t just looking like what I had to bring with me that day it was what I had to bring with me for the next month do I have enough medication in another cycle ready um and and knowing what we were doing and I didn’t always know what we were doing. So getting those scripts filled to make sure you’ve got enough meds and whatever trips coming up is there any advice then for teams if if they’re

21:05
through the embryo transfers? I had to find something that was a reason to keep going. For me, it was a dream that I remembered. I remembered probably just before we got married.

21:14
I remembered having a little dark-skinned baby and then I married my husband and I was like well that’s a weird dream, I have very white children. So I kind of shelved it and it wasn’t until I was in the middle of those transfers going I know just keep going, she’s coming. Wow, you’ve had that dream. And I’m assuming didn’t Menaka knew this? She didn’t know about it until I was pregnant.

21:35
Okay, yep. So you had to find something to hold on to there. And anonymous also asks, how did your family cope with life being on hold? Did they, like, did they get grumpy mum at all? Definitely. They definitely got grumpy mum at times. Being that it was so long, it was our normal. Yeah. It was on hold, but it also kept going. Okay. Cause this is what we want to do for them. Did your husband, Chris, then have any resentments and frustrations himself of the process? He was just like, oh, that’s what we’re doing now, is it? Okay. Okay. Yep. Sue has typed in. Yay Sue.

22:05
Is there a suggestion what to say when there’s a failed transfer as it’s hard for everyone in a team? So yeah suppose you as a surrogate that it’s in your body, you know it’s not your fault, but you know it’s for your friends and it’s another fail. Any advice on that one? Yeah it’s so hard to be the yes this is happening to me but I’m so much more sad for you. Like it’s we just we’re just like we’re all very science-based, very we’re doing everything we can. There’s nothing we can do differently to change it so this is what’s happened let’s just get through it.

22:35
So we were there to support each other but we’re also there to give each other space when we needed it and we’re just checking in after every transfer. How are you feeling? Has your bleeding stopped? Do you want to go again? If it’s too much just say. Yeah okay. So that was regularly offered to you? Yep by my appease by the fertility specialist and she got to the point where she’s like if you can’t keep going and you can’t tell them I’ll find a reason. Oh she’ll tell them about this. It’s fine. Sorry it’s a determined stubborn woman though aren’t they Nikita? You were like not stopping until I’ve… I’m not stopping. How could you stop? I know, I know.

23:05
Obviously, you know, that was a long 12 months for your team and that you’ve gotten through that. Is there anything else in your team that was a challenge that you feel that you did well or that you’d like to reflect on? Or was that the main challenge for your team there? It was probably the biggest, yeah. We just constantly checked in with each other, just checking that we were all still OK. So at the end, then the counsellor asked us if we had any big conflicts to deal with. We didn’t have any big conflicts. So we didn’t have any little ones. Like, yeah, we had heaps of little ones. So what were they?

23:33
We don’t know. We just got through them. Okay. There was little ones, but they were just little speed bumps. And because we brought them up straight away, talked about them straight away, they didn’t become bigger problems. Okay. So there were examples where of times then you’re saying where you had to go, oh, this is uncomfortable, but I need to ask for X, Y, Z. Yeah. Can you give one example? And not pinpoint any of them. They were all that insignificant in hindsight. But at the moment they were like.

23:55
speak, but then they weren’t. And then were there times too where your IPs had to bring something up with you that was a little uncomfortable? Like that they had to not set a boundary, so to speak, but just had to say, hang on, we have to change this for this reason. Yeah. And usually it takes me a minute and I’m like, oh no, that makes sense. Yeah, fair enough. Yes, fair enough. And then are there other things that you would like to mention that your team did well or that you’re really proud of or things that have sprung to mind that you’d like to pass on to others here? I’m super proud of our team and our friendship and all the time and effort we put into getting to know each other.

24:25
just doing the next thing along the way that’s all you can do is do the next right thing and that’s what got us out the other side. Yeah absolutely. Like Elsa. What was that? Like Elsa. Like Elsa. Do the next right thing. That’s perfect. Frozen 2. Absolutely yes I think it. Mothers of girls not just girls but you know so if you’re familiar with the Frozen series there’s some lots to let it go and do the next right thing. Yep. Is there any more you’d like to expand on on the birth there or was your husband at the birth? No he wasn’t that was something we decided

24:55
even met them before he met Menaka and Simon. Because he might be traveling or just… He might be traveling. So there was a good chance he wouldn’t make it to a birth. So we decided to make a million other plans for if he wasn’t there. And then if he was home his job was our kids. Yes and so then was he your support person during the birth of your own kids or he wasn’t necessarily there? Yes he was a fantastic birth support for our own kids. Right. And so then… Like Menaka right in the bath with me. Okay. But by the third one I was like I could have done it without you.

25:25
go into planning that birth going, okay, I need a different support person and then you were comfortable enough for it to be Menaka and together you wanted that to happen? Yeah, so that was always the aim from the start was to get the friendship to that point where she could be that complete support knowing that there was a 90% chance he wasn’t going to be there. Yes. And then we had a false start while he was at home.

25:45
and my brain went, maybe he’ll come with us to the birth because other people are around, the kid’s fine. And he was like, no, I think I’ll just stay in bed. So from that point, I was like, okay, he’s not coming to the hospital. So he went to work again and then he was actually driving through Dolby. So almost home when I get birth. And he’s like, do I come to the hospital or go home? I was like, just go home, he’s done. It’s done, I’ll be home. Did you and Menaka then do birthing classes together? We did. Ah.

26:08
Yeah, we did the midwife run birthing classes together. Like in a group, so these two women going together? In a group, yep. So I educated another dozen people about surrogacy. Yes, so they would have learned. Hopefully one of those women step forward and be a surrogate. Maybe. We should hand out flyers at those.

26:24
It’s always been my secret. I’m like, I wish you’d been like birthing classes and recruit surrogates for five years. It was a good class. It was the whole day class. So we did a morning session, went to the pub for lunch altogether, and then came back and did an afternoon. So we spent a lot of time together for it. And then it gave something like, because Monaco hasn’t birthed, but you have. But then it gave that extra bonding thing, being your support person there. That would have been nice, even though it was a short life.

26:47
Yeah. Anonymous does ask, did your husband end up being at home when you went into labor? No, he was just driving back. And he probably got home like a half an hour before us. Yes, there we go. But was he proud of you in his own way? He is. He is proud of me. Excellent. And your kids are too in their own way, I’d imagine. They are. Yeah. And they love their little baby Lewis, their little cousin. They call her their cousin. Have you heard your kids talking about surrogacy to their friends and things? And is that an interesting moment when you hear how kids explain it? Not really. They don’t talk about it because it’s so normal.

27:17
more to them. They’ve come to meets with me and I’ll be like, oh that’s…

27:20
That girl’s mom has also had a baby for someone else. And they’re like, yeah, whatever. Everyone does it. Because in their household, that’s really normal to have a baby and give it away, isn’t it? Yes. Wrapping up here, just a couple of last questions. Anonymous says, how did you manage all your expenses during the journey? Did you use a linked card? Yeah, I had a card. I had a surrogacy card linked to their account that I could just use at appointments for KFC on the way home, whatever I needed. I will add there that that is one of the options for SASS teams is to have a card that is connected to a surrogacy

27:50
as well and so we keep an eye on the balance and so there’s an agreement that it’s got at least a thousand dollars on there so the surrogate has peace of mind that when she taps the card to use it it’s never going to decline and so that was my well it is my job for all of my IP teens to keep an eye on that balance and just occasionally if it’s dropped you know quite a bit below a thousand to go oh just do a little top-up because they’re probably busy with all their organizing appointments or if they’re then parents so yeah so there’s that peace of mind and obviously all the balance on that account belongs to the

28:20
in many months post-birth. So yeah that’s that’s one of the parts of the package for SASS 2 there. Yeah and I also used a spreadsheet to keep tracking my kilometers for anything that didn’t go straight on that card. Yes that’s a good point too yes because wear and tear in your car and petrol and that sort of stuff. The hospital did you stay overnight at all? No. No, often public hospitals were the same. So on that day of birth you eventually went home and

28:42
Menaka and Simon were staying nearby, is that right? Yeah, yeah. So because we managed to spend all day together at the hospital, that was our plan. If we birthed at like early evening and we spent the time at the hospital, that we didn’t feel like we got to spend enough time together, then we would go home together. But because we had…

28:59
daylight of all of us awake. We’re all well rested when we got there. We thought that was quality time at the hospital so they dropped me home. The kids met Isabel, my sister met Isabel, Chris met Isabel and then they went back to their AMB and then I went over there like 9 p.m. over a feed and then came back to my own bed. Yes. Yeah so I direct fed her for five days. Good see that was another question and then you expressed milk for a while too? I expressed for four months. Four months phenomenal effort there fantastic and because she ended up being exclusively fed

29:29
your milk is that correct? Yeah for about the three months. Yep that’s fantastic. And another surrogate gave a little bit of milk as well.

29:35
I think I remember you telling me that. That’s fantastic. See, there’s the village working there. And how long did Menaka and Simon stay at that Airbnb near your house until they went back to their house? About 10 days it ended up being because I was later overdue. Right, and that’s hard for IPs to book in their Airbnb not knowing when birth’s gonna be if it’s not induced, that sort of thing. So somebody in the chat is saying, thank you for sharing your story and thank you, congrats on the 100 webinars. It’s a lovely way to round it out with you, Nikita. So, okay. Well, I think we sum it up there.

30:05
Any last parting things to tell from your team that have popped into your mind or advice for those at the beginning? Just keep going, it’ll happen. Yep, if you believe it will happen and hopefully everybody will get there in some format. So we’re proud of you Nikita, you’ve done it! You’ve done what you wanted to do. You did it! I’m assuming you feel pretty proud of yourself as well, yeah? Definitely, yep. Are you one and done? No way. Put people on the spot there, don’t they?

30:31
Watch This Space webinar. Watch This Space. Part two, when Nikita comes back in the future, we’ll see what she’s… Two, three, we’ll see what happens. Oh my goodness, we’ll see. Surrogates, what did I tell you? They’re a crazy bunch, aren’t they? Do you reckon that’s right? Everybody’s a bit crazy about surrogates. That’s it. You fall into that category, my friend. Yep, definitely. 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.

31:00
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.

Looking to find a surrogate in Australia? Consider joining ⁠SASS⁠.

Looking for an overview of surrogacy? Join us in a free, fortnightly Wednesday night ⁠webinar⁠.

Looking to chat with other IPs and surrogates in a casual setting? Join us for a monthly ⁠Zoom⁠ catch up, one Friday of each month. 

Looking to hear stories from parents through surrogacy and surrogates? Listen to our ⁠podcast⁠ series or watch episodes on our ⁠YouTube⁠ channel. 

Looking for support one-on-one? Register for ⁠SASS⁠ to connect with me – your Siri for Surrogacy, or book in for a private consultation ⁠sass@surrogacyaustralia.org