Episode 56 – Janna – surrogate

Janna birthed a little boy as a surrogate in Adelaide in October 2023 for a couple who were previously strangers and are now life long friends. Janna and her team have not only created an extended modern family but have all supported many other IPs and surrogates in the SA and National community over the years.

This episode was recorded in May 2024.


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). 

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


Thanks for watching!

Welcome back, or if this is your first time, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to Surrogacy Australia’s podcast series with me, your host Anna McKie. My guest on this episode was a co-host on the regular webinar series that I run. Those one-hour webinars are free and will take you through the surrogacy process in Australia. You will hear from a surrogate or parent and there are opportunities to type in your questions and we will try to answer them. You can find upcoming dates on our website at surrogacyaustralia.org

This episode, recorded in May 2024, features Janna. Janna birthed a little boy as a surrogate in Adelaide in October 2023 for a couple who were previously strangers and are now lifelong friends. Janna and her team have not only created an extended modern family, but have all supported many other IPs and surrogates in the SA and national community over the years. Janna expands on topics like building up the trust so your IPs, intended parents, can have your child for a sleepover,

having endometriosis and adenomyosis as a surrogate and needing to put her body into menopause before having an embryo transfer, how it was emotionally powerful and rewarding by being present when her IPs announced the pregnancy to their friends and family in video calls, the challenges when one parent of the surrogate is not overly positive about the journey, as well as many examples of how their team followed the wisdom from teams who have gone before them and created a genuine friendship beyond surrogacy.

I hope you enjoy this episode.

Janet, thank you for joining us. Take us back to the beginning. Why did you want to be a surrogate in the first place? And how did you find your IPs? If you’d asked me when I was a little girl, I was going to have 50 babies. They were going to be green. And I was just going to have this, you know, big house with all these children running around and screen all those things. As I got older, I realized that’s probably possible. And raising children is ridiculous. And so I have one keeper and he is nine years old. But I had a lot of friends that were struggling

and getting pregnant and fertility issues. And I was just like, I’ve got a womb to rent. You know, kept offering up to a few people, you know, they were lucky enough to fall pregnant themselves with the help of fertility specialists and I wasn’t needed. But then the conversation came up again with somebody at work and they were struggling. They were same sex couple, two females. And I was like, oh, like if you’re having trouble, like again, womb to rent. One of the girls just looked at me and she’s just like, it’s not a simple thing. And I was like, what do you mean? Like, I’ve got a uterus, it works.

wrong with it, I promise you. And I’m like, no, no, we’ve got two ovens. Like we’ve got to exhaust all our options before like we looked into surrogate. So she’s like, I think you need to go do some research. And I was like, okay. So I was like, okay, let’s have a look. And I started joining some online forums. I joined SAS, started my research journey into becoming a surrogate. And after talking with my partner and we’d only been together a couple of years, I was like, this is something I really want to do. I really want to help make someone a mum or

dad trying to find you know how to do that.

I worked in the background for quite a long time on the Facebook groups. Do you remember how long are we talking? What is long time? I think it was a couple of months before I sort of tried to get my feelings out there. I ended up going to a sorry gets only catch up first. And that was in October 2021. I remember it well. I think I drove you there, didn’t I? You did. You came and picked me up and that helped break the ice immensely. Yeah, it sort of started from there. And I really realised after that first catch up, like this is absolutely something I want to do.

from looking at your, like the presentation again, I had a lot of those querying questions, like, can I be a surrogate? I have had PTSD, I am overweight, I’m, you know, getting into my late thirties, there was all these red flags, I thought, and I had some great mentors, um, Anna and Danny, um, sort of helped me sort of understand what surrogacy is. I met my now P’s, um, my parents,

and been tipping back the wines one night and I was like, I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to put myself out there. I’ve got to meet other people, but I didn’t risk. And it was for IPs only. So I invited myself and then had to be directly removed from the group because I realized that I wasn’t. So I started chatting with Min about that. And we had a big laugh about it. And our friendship started. So it was not surrogacy talk about this. It was just get to know you. What do you do? You know, like, I can’t believe you did that and stuff. We’d been talking for a little bit. And then we started to send videos to each other

hadn’t seen each other or met each other in person but we wanted to see how they talked, how we talked to each other and what each other looked like because the photos only do so much justice and I still hadn’t done an introduction post into any of the communities so she had no idea who I was.

Oh yes, who’s this woman that I’m talking to? Is she real? Yeah she’s got some weird name on Facebook. Yeah that’s right, Spanner. Do you remember what month this was of what year? Because I’m thinking how long was your journey? Late 2021 then? Yeah October 2021. So we’d been talking and she sent and Min sends Min this video of her dog and he’s running through the backyard, she’s calling him and he’s on a little tiny little fluffy thing and he’s got a stick stuck in his collar and she’s like

I was just in tears laughing my head off and I was like, she’s just as crazy as I am. We just got the personality and we started going from there and we then had a catch up. So the four of us, so myself, Min, my partner, Yowie and Peter, we all went out for dinner and we had to be reminded, I think about seven or eight times by the wait staff, like you need to order some food because we were talking so much.

And I think I knew from our first catch up in person, like we’d been obviously messaging every single day like you were dating a normal like anyone else. I was like, these are my people. They’re funny, they’re, you know, open, they, you know, welcoming, warm, not awkward.

And yeah, so I’ve just started messaging from there. Wow. Would have been exciting and nerve wracking that first dinner, like like going on a date with a couple. Yes, it was. And I like my partner drove and I’m sitting in the car and I’m like shaking and they’re all like, you know, and I get there and they’re like, we’re so nervous. And I’m like, they were too. Yeah, everyone’s nervous. We were all feeling it. We spent a good six months, sorry, dating, messaging, catching up, you know, random beach visits, you know, like sharing birthdays.

sort of things. For context, you’re all in Adelaide, what’s the distance between your houses? On non-peak traffic, 20 minutes. Otherwise in peak traffic, 40 minutes to Adelaide. Okay, so still fairly local. Yeah and it was good because I didn’t want to do interstate just with my work.

with having my son and my partner’s job, it was just gonna be one of those things that I couldn’t just either go to the IP state or, you know, them come here and having to manage all that. It was just, I had said it out from the start, flat out, I just wanna do South Australia. And Adelaide would have been the best thing. So I was predominantly just looking in South Australia. And I think advice there for any IPs and surrogates listening about like, how did you find each other? You weren’t necessarily looking for a gay or a straight couple. It was literally something in the-

community, something that had happened and you just struck up a conversation about organizing the catch up and then just started messaging. And so I think the heads up there for IPs and surrogates is just put yourself out there. You never know how you’re going to connect and just interact with people as though you’re friends without any preconceived ideas of potentially being a team and just build those connections. It sounds like that’s what you guys did together. Absolutely. Yeah, it was definitely the friendship and it wasn’t until I reckon we didn’t start to really talk about surrogacy things for at least, you know,

I think it was about six to eight weeks before we actually started to get into those conversations. And then it was sort of, you know, getting into January and February. And then we started to go through and making sure that, you know, some of my deal breaker questions, you know, were going to be met. I didn’t really have very many deal breakers. It was just, I just wanted to be alive at the end. It was, you know, my first priority is going to be my son and he needs a mum coming from a separated family. So, you know, that was my biggest thing is like, you know,

Something starts to go wrong and I’m unwell.

you know, that termination question, I guess, was probably the only big deal breaker is that I need to be here for him. I think my partner, you know, had asked the same question in one of our group catch ups multiple times. Like you do realize that she’s the most important person out of all of this. And he had to have that reassurance from from them as well. So then you spent the time, sorry, dating and then and then officially offered and then went into the counseling and legals. Anything to summarize from that part of the journey?

in the March and my partner was turning 40 in November and so I said I don’t want to get pregnant before then because I want to have a drink at my partner’s 40th, we all wanted to have a few that night and just you know have a good time. So that gave us a really good stretch of time to not have to rush through legals, not have to rush through counseling and you know it meant that we just we kind of forgot about surrogacy a lot of the time because we’re too busy hanging out having fun.

for dinners, you know, them coming over and you know taking Lincoln to the park and getting to know him and building a relationship with my son.

because that was really important that, you know, there could be times where, you know, I might be bedridden and they need, he needs to feel that he was safe with them to go stay with them. So he had sleepovers at their house and woke up at 2 a.m. in the morning and decided it was time to get up. So they had a little bit of an eye opener to what it’s like to be a parent. That’s fantastic to get to that point of trust where you trust them to have your child and to be able to look after his needs, because I mean, they’re ultimately trusting you to carry their child. So there’s a lot of trust there.

That’s a huge thing and therefore your child to be trusting them to to be at their house that takes a lot of time as a parent to build that up so that’s a real credit to your team of amount of time that you clearly spent together not just surrogacy related just as actual friends. Yeah so before transfer date Yowie and I took Peter and Min away with Lincoln and Wilfy and we went away on a holiday it was just for a weekend just for a couple of days it’s like can we survive in the same space for a long time?

and not for it to feel weird or awkward. So we took turns in cooking and looking after Lincoln and we went, we showed them how we holiday, which is going crabbing and going fishing and outside adventure life. We’ve continued that. We’ve done that again post birth. It’s now gonna be one of those traditions where each year we’ll go away, we’ll take them away and show them something new. And I think that’s what it’s for. It’s about ongoing friendships that are not just here for the project, that are lifelong and you live in that.

legal agreement and it was all done and dusted exactly on

Yowie’s 40th birthday. So we got to celebrate not just his birthday, you know, cause nothing to be just about him. It had to be about me. And so we got to, and Peter and Min came to his 40th. So you got to meet all of our extended friends and family and they just fit in with everybody. They just like, they were friends with everyone. And remember Min going to Peter, I just want to go over and talk with all the girls that are over there. He’s like, just go and do it. And she’s like, oh, I’m a bit nervous. And she just goes, I’m doing it. Off she went. And yeah, just, she’s been part of the group,

really really nice to see that it’s not just our friendship it’s extending to everyone so yeah. Credit to your team and I know that you’ve done that vice versa you’ve made a point of getting to know each other’s friends and family so that they can support you all in this journey. Yes. And then that took us probably to Christmas and then heading towards an embryo transfer at the start of 2023 then? Yeah. And I think that’s the photos that we go back to so I might go back to that now. So then you headed towards transfer and did it work first embryo transfer? It did we were extremely lucky

known that I’ve had endometriosis and I’ve had several surgeries when I was quite younger, but it has been pretty, you know, non-existent since I’ve had my son. It’s been very, you know, sort of dormant, I guess. So going through the fertility stuff, they picked up that had adenomyosis. So it’s just, you know, in the uterine wall, makes your uterus look a little bit ugly. So I chose to go down a medicated route. So I went on to Zoladex. So it put me into menopause for quite some time,

after Christmas, the Jowies Hotel were rental services. So that’s just a combination of Janna and Yowie is Jowies. So we had our scan leading up to going away. That was when we went and took them.

away the first one on that day. And so we had all the last level scans to make sure that, you know, the adenomyosis had like shrunken and my uterus was looking pretty. And then I went into a full medicated cycle from there. So daily injections for 14 days. So that’s the other picture was day one. I was actually in Queensland for that one. So I had to cut all my medication in cooler bags on a flight from SA to Queensland and start my process halfway. When I was in Queensland, got back to.

to Adelaide and then continued with tracking my ovulation because I hadn’t had a period for eight weeks because of the Zoladex. So it was really relying on the medications and trialing different things. So, and then I started doing a lipids injection. So it was like a transfusion. So I went into reprimand for two hours to have a fusion done.

That was two times before transfer and then one time after transfer. And it just basically was to stop my body rejecting the embryo. So instead of taking Prednisolone or some other steroid, they use these liquids to like an anti-inflammatory. And then yeah, transfer at the end of January and it stopped. And it was the longest week. So transfer day, we all wore baby Yoda socks. My partner was away for work and he wore his.

photos of his come through, my son wore some, we bought some for my mum and dad and they wore those too, but it was just the three of us at Transfer. And so yeah, for the two weeks Peter and Min didn’t want to know if what the results were. So I was hanging on a stick daily and nervous. And I remember messaging Dunny who does runs the Zooms on a Friday messaging her and I was like, I’ve got no lines, I’m not pregnant. What have

done, really stressed out and she’s like, give it one more day, it will be fine. And the very next day there was a line. So I had known for, you know, five extra days. And so when it came to blood tests, Friday, 10 days, this transfer, I knew, I felt good that it was a positive and I’d felt in myself, I was like, yeah, I feel pregnant. We went and got bloods and then we went out for brunch. And then we were sitting around at Peter and Min’s house and they’re like, so how do you think it’s going to be? And I was like, oh, you know, like I think we just made for the phone call and just made.

real like and the phone call happened and I’m sitting there like trying not to smile and the nurse who had dealt with me a lot on the phone was able to give us the message that we were pregnant and we all cried and it was a real magical moment that I could finally share. I had a baby and you know we’re on our way to hopefully making them a family. Because for every intended mum that comes to surrogacy they’ve been on a medical journey of some sort haven’t they? You

Oh yes, let’s have a surrogate carry the baby instead of me. It could have been born without a uterus or cancer or medical issues. So every woman has had a journey to get there. So to finally be on her way to being a mom and you helping that for your friend. It’s pretty special for everybody, isn’t it? It was amazing. And we had this joke. It’s just like zero days, you know, like, cause we’d always be crying, you know, happy tears and stuff like that. We send something nice to each other. And it’s like, Oh, it’s day zero again. But my favorite part was, you know, like as they told their friends, they would

you know, we would do a video call and I’d be there and I got to be able to be there, you know, or share those big moments and that meant the world to me was to see those videos of you know, them telling their friends and their friends all bursting into tears and being excited them and that really like hit home for me. I was just like, this is really happening and I, you know, the amount of people that are going to be happy and excited for this little baby that I’m.

growing was pretty awesome. Yes, I’m going to come back and ask some questions about that later because you’ve touched on an idea that there was joy from their friends and family and I got that too and that was lovely but then sometimes there’s hesitation from our families on the surrogate side and I found that really interesting and challenging to navigate but we’ll come back to that. Those that don’t know, Janna or Spanner, like this is a great example of her personality and the fun that they had. I’m guessing your team had fun during pregnancy. I am very lucky and we were very lucky throughout this pregnancy.

Apart from some sore coccyx, I did not get sick. I maybe felt a little bit queasy twice for five minutes and that was it. Like no heartburn, no nothings. It was a lot easier, I guess, you know, than my pregnancy with my son. Like I had a bit of heartburn with him and that was the worst of it. Very pregnant and very happy. Like I was 39 weeks pregnant and still beach fishing down at Galway, you know, waist deep water, throwing the line out to catch fish. That’s the one photo I didn’t squish in, but yeah.

If anybody saw it on social media you would have seen, yeah you continued to be active during pregnancy there. I mean it’s still heavy load right, that photo on the far right there, very heavy pregnancy, it’s like, oh I feel heavy just looking at it. Yes, I’m part of A surrogates only group in…

Australia and so they always do hump day, bump day and you’re putting your photos and stuff so you know I’d send them to Peter and Min and stuff like that I guess probably later down the track but you know it was a good way to you know have other people excited and stuff so I’m not a serious person and so I guess the photos really do indicate my personality like you know I think my back was really playing up hence the face filling full my monkey faces what I

the week that I gave birth. Yes. I can see my blue nails. That is the indication that it was our last week. Well that’s a good segue to the next photo there of you and you know in Tender Mom Mins. You got your nails done. You knew you were having a boy so you’ve got them done in matching blue. Is that right? Yes. Yeah it was actually really cool how they found out. So they found out the gender and I didn’t know. So they did a gender reveal with me and so my son and we had a party

having a boy and then they gave party poppers to their friends and their friends and did like all these little mini, you know, genera build. It was really cool. So we thought that, yeah, for birth that we would, you know, go like something we did together anyway, we would occasionally go get our nails or toes done. So we thought, now let’s, let’s be matchy matchy. So yeah, we went and got baby blue nails and bright blue nails on our toes for the baby boy. Yeah. Then it was the weight. I felt like in the last week or so that I couldn’t ring Peter and Min cause I think

I’d rang that I was in labor. So it was a lot of texting. I was like, Hey, you bored? You want to chat? You know, um, if I wanted to ring because also I didn’t want to get them excited for no reason. So, but I was in pre-labor for about two weeks getting tractions, um, every night for about five or six hours and then no contractions. Yeah. So I think that’s a credit that your team was happy to go into labor naturally. I know sometimes it’s easier for teams to schedule a caesarian or for an induction, but like my team, it was that excitement of not knowing when, you know,

the day of birth’s going to come. So eventually it did come, and I know it was a long labor for you. So you had a birth photographer with you when you got to the hospital? Yes, so I had a bit of a traumatic birth with my son. I had an induction and I didn’t wanna do that. So we had a private midwife throughout, about 15 weeks onwards we had a private midwife. So she was there for our prenatal appointments, she was there for our labor, and then she did all of our postnatal things. And it worked really well because she knew what I wanted in birth. She knew I didn’t wanna be touched. She knew that I just wanted to go

labor and just do my thing and let my body do what it was meant to do naturally, rather than go through the induction. So it was a long wait. So I was overdue. I was due on the Wednesday and on the Friday night, I went into labor, pulled my sister over and she like, cause she was going to look after my son. And if I had to go to hospital. So she came over and it got late in the night. She’s like, think you should call, think you should call. And I was like, no, it’s not. I’m not established like, cause my contractions were all over the place. But she wanted to go to bed.

and it was like two o’clock in the morning and Min’s like hi and I was like hi I think it’s time and she’s like oh oh oh oh

And I was like, look, you’ve got time. So if you need to have a share on what hair look good, you’ve got time. Yeah, if you guys want to start coming over. So they came over about an hour or so later. And we spent the next 24 hours at home, at my house, you know, watching comedians trying to make me laugh, thinking that I needed, you know, endorphins to make everything happen. But I was just not in established labor. My body just didn’t want to have a regular contraction. They were painful, but didn’t want to. I didn’t go to sleep. I didn’t sit down.

down or anything because every time I laid down I couldn’t get on top of the contractions. So then I called my midwife and I was like I’m not coping I just need something just so I can go get some rest just have something just like I can’t prescribe you anything stronger than Panadeine forte and I was like that’s not gonna do anything. So just go down to the assessment center get checked out see if they can give you something and you can go home and get some rest and that’s what we thought was gonna happen. So it was Saturday night.

trundle into the, you know, don’t take anything because we don’t think we’re going to stand. We just trundle in, just grab some bits and pieces and stuff. And Min comes in and the midwife does an examination. She’s like, oh, you’re about four to five centimeters. And I was like, oh, really? I’m glad that my 24 hours has nothing. She’s like, I’ll give you midwife a call and see what happens. And I was like, okay, no worries. Midwife said, no, no, stay. And so that’s when Charlie, our photographer from Little Rose Photography, met us when we got moved over into the room and she started photos. I didn’t even know she was there half time.

almost like a doula actually. She helped our team, you know, navigate certain awkward, what might’ve been awkward situations like, why don’t you just get her a wet towel? Or how about you grab her some ice chips? Or maybe you should give her the fan here.

A few hours later, six o’clock in the morning, the next morning, so three days later, finally gave birth, there’s a little max. He actually came out, I mean, not exactly came out first and then his little head decided to finally come down, which was why it was taking my labor so long because his head wasn’t stretching my cervix. So that’s why it takes, that took so much longer. If my water’s had broken, it would have been a lot quicker, but I didn’t wanna go into the high risk area because then it’s classed as an induction.

and then the hospital rules were you only allowed to have three people in the room and I wanted my partner as my support person. I wanted Peter and Min in the room because I wanted them to meet their baby. I wanted my midwife and I wanted a photographer, so six people, you know, opposed to three. So we really pushed and I’m so grateful for my private midwife because she, you know, vouched for me and kept them away so I could do my thing. And then, yeah, I got to meet little Matz and he was, he was big.

He was three and a bit kilos. You liked him, Will? He did. And yeah, got the first lot of cuddles until I passed the placenta naturally. And then I reckon it would have been half an hour or 40 minutes later. I was like, you need to come and meet your baby. Peter and Min were very much wanting to give me space because some people had regretted in the past and they had done so much research. And I was like, no, no, please come meet your baby. Like I can get cuddles again. It’s not like I’m giving him to you and I won’t get him back.

like it’s fine. So yeah, then I got to do that absolutely magical handover moment, which it is there is no label emotional label place on that other than just like it almost brings me back to tears because it’s just such a happy intense feeling, you know, more so than my own birth and my own son. It’s a completely different feeling. But yeah, it’s absolutely magical to then

having his first hold and just all being there in the room together and watching them fuss over him. It was just magical. So anybody that follows that birth photographer on social media was it Little Rose photography? Yes. Right. You can scroll back and find these beautiful photos of when Min becomes a mum for the first time and I don’t know about you as a surrogate but for me the vision was never me imagining a baby in my arms or here in a nursery. My vision was always my friends holding their baby and so when suddenly you see that

and your friends are holding the baby and you made that picture happen. It’s just like, did you feel that sense of? Yeah, well, we had discussed that I was gonna do first direct feed to help bring in my milk and all of those things. And as soon as he was on my chest, I was like, that’s not my baby. Like, what am I doing holding him? Like, I just wanted to just, I wanted that handover. Like, and I just, you know, I wanted to see them, you know, as a little family. And that was what I was waiting for, you know. I quickly forgot that, you know, I was like,

and walk to the toilet and do all those things. I’m a bit sore tender because I’ve just birthed, but I’m like, you know, it felt like Min had just given birth and that was her baby and I was visiting her. And then some other photos that we’ve got here is that, you know, it’s a special thing when your baby meets their baby. So your little son, he came on in a few hours later, did he? Yeah. So we’d organized with Charlie to come back in to take some photos when my son met him. And it was, you know, cause he’s, he’s had to put up with me being pregnant and not been able to

him and all of those sort of things so seeing you know him Hanna and he’s just like ooo

And then he got to hold him and you know, he was waiting, he was standing up and we’re like, you know, sit down and he sits on the edge of the bed and it’s no, no, let’s sit on the bed buddy. Like he was just so excited and he like, you know, it wasn’t forced to make him hold him or anything. He wanted to, and he’s just like, mom, I’m so proud of you. And I was like, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. And then he was just in so much admiration of Max. And you know, he’s like, look at his little nose and oh, look at his little juicy lips. And just, yeah, it was, it was beautiful. So, and they still have that. Yeah, they still have that bond.

So every time Lincoln, you know, they come over or Lincoln is with us when we see them. So can I feed him? Can I hold him? Can I show him my toys? And you know, yeah, it’s gonna be the best of buds. Beautiful. And these photos start to go on as life goes on. And so here’s a little photo here of the two boys having a nap or a tin nap or something. Yes. So my nickname is Banana or Banana Flea with my family. So my niece calls me Auntie Banana. I even have my Auntie Banana small goods baby glass. It’s got a lot of banana outfits.

came over with his banana outfit on, you know, Lincoln’s like, why can’t he sleep in my bed? So that’s them having a nap together. But yeah, and the other photo is when I’ve gone and seen them at their house about a week after birth and I’ve got my surrogacy sisterhood shirt on, you know, because I went away on a retreat earlier in the year. So yeah, it’s nice to just, you know, still have, you know, presence in his life post-birth. It didn’t mean that they

I can go to their house, be a part of his life. And to finish up with some of the photos, just got a few more to go here. You went on quite a milk pumping journey as well. How long did you pump? Yeah, four and a half months. Donated most of my milk to Peter and Min, 175 litres. 175 litres! It’s hard to fathom the amount of milk that is. Lots of hours, but it gave me a real good purpose after birth and a way to fill my time while I was on maternity leave. I was quite lucky to get 20 weeks maternity leave with my work.

And I took full advantage of that. And I used that as part of my recovery. And by me pumping, I got all these great, you know, feel good hormones from the pumping, then to see milk going to max. And I mean, it was in-juice lactation as well. So she was, you know, on her milk journey as well. And it was, it made my transition back into normal life, just that little bit easier, because I had a purpose for that time before I went back to work and back to my normal life. So. Well done. Something really to be proud of.

These photos here, we start to then talk about community because you’re a regular in the Zoom monthly catch-ups and so these crops have relevance and so does your dad here for one of the Zoom monthly catch-ups but just tell us a bit about these photos and what they mean to you. I got really swollen feet throughout my pregnancy. I couldn’t find shoes that fit and they kept talking on the Zooms on a Friday night about…

crocs like there’s a couple of guys, I have like a whole croc room and you know it was like I don’t know like they must feel gross and stuff so Yowie and I ended up getting ours first and I was like man these are the comfiest things ever and I towards the end of my pregnancy I nearly gave birth in my crocs so Min then got hers and Peter’s like no I’m not getting some no way and then we made the thing if I birthed in my crocs that he would get some it was quite hilarious because it was very close it was I was wearing them up to the last 20 minutes

And it wasn’t until I laid down that, you know, to give birth that I actually came off. Otherwise I was wearing them and he’s like, well, you got pretty far and you’ve done, you’ve done this awesome thing for me. So cause I’ll go get some crocs and he absolutely loves them. So a bit of a funny one there. So yeah, we all wear our crocs. And yeah, my dad has been probably one of my, apart from my partner, he’s been one of my biggest supporter throughout my surrogacy journey. My mom, unfortunately is not a lover of pregnancy. She’s not a lover of.

babies and those sort of things. So I didn’t really have that bond or that have that person in my mom to talk about surrogacy with, but my dad really stepped up. I would send him, you know, like the baby is the size of like a Lego figure, you know, those little photos each week. Absolutely has loved watching my journey. He’s watched my full birth video with all the bits and gory bits in it. Wow. He was so excited to meet Max, just dotes on him, just loves to cuddle him, loves to just watch him do his little movements.

and goos and gars. But yeah, like my dad was like, I would like to find a label. Like, you know, I’ve got my grandson, I’ve got granddaughter, I’ve got, you know, I’ve got my girls, I’ve got my son-in-laws, but what is Max? And dad’s like, well, he’s part of the family. So he’d been doing some research and…

what do I call him? Like he goes, he feels like my grandson, but he’s decided that it’s his bonus grandson. So he’s now got a bonus daughter-in-law and a bonus son, son-in-law and a bonus grandson. So yeah, it’s just really beautiful. He just… And I think for people listening at any stage of their journey, starting to think about, wow, this ripple effect that surrogacy has, not just on the team that do surrogacy, but on the families of the intended parents and the surrogate of how this

and that sort of stuff. So I think bonus grandchild is spot on. And not just that, but bonus son-in-law and daughter-in-law. So it just shows that bond that’s being made there. And then these last photos I added in, it’s the community, which I know that you’re really passionate about supporting there. So you’ve got some photos here of some of your surrogate sisters, essentially. One with the four girls, that’s four of us that went, Adelaide surrogates that went away on the surrogacy retreat early last, or mid last year, around this time last year. Kayla is also listening.

She has also been like a huge, absolute huge support. We catch up on nearly every fortnight for a lunch now with cocktails. When I was pregnant it was a bit more since June. You know, I try to make all the surrogate catch ups that I can. So there’s a big group catch up post-birth. There was a couple of us actually who had just given birth in that photo and one about to pop. Picture of you and me. Yeah, came over and gave me some gifts.

from some of the people in the community who wanted to reach out and extend their congratulations to, I guess, myself for surviving surrogacy and, yeah, making my way through my fourth trimester. Absolutely. Yes, you’re a credit to the community and ongoing help that you continue to give people, both you and your intended parents. You’re really in support of that. We talked before about the joy that you might have from the family of the intended parents that you carry for, but then sometimes there might be some strange relationships. You said your dad

was a support but your mum not so much. Did you therefore have to find the joy wherever you could or did that anything you wanted to add about that? It was really hard like you know she wasn’t really there like my parents are still together they live in Mount Gambier and I live here in Adelaide so they’re you know a distance way so a lot of our communication is via phone and stuff but I did find it that she was very absent during my pregnancy.

And that was really hard when you’re having niggles or you’re having emotional moments. You want to reach out to your mum. She just couldn’t relate. She doesn’t have any good feelings around pregnancy and birth and babies and stuff. And that’s okay. And trying to find that boundary and navigating that in our own relationship was really hard. But I was very lucky in the fact that I could then, you know, pick up the phone and ring my dad, who I didn’t think I would be having, you know, pregnancy conversations about.


and how they were faring. But yeah, he stepped up. It has strengthened our relationship. My dad and I were in a rough place, like, you know, a long time ago and we’d been rebuilding on that. But now, you know, this really has brought us together. And, you know, with me having time off work and we were able to have a lot of sit down conversations and help rebuild because of it. So, it’s been really good. Interesting. It’s been a great experience. Yeah, and it takes you on journeys as a person. You came in here to have a baby for friends

So your own relationship with your mum and dad, strengthen it with dad. I don’t know if it’s strained at long term with your mum or if there’s any advice then that you would give to surrogates at the beginning, you know, if you face some of these challenges with your own, you know, immediate blood family.

any thoughts on how to navigate that? A lot of the fear was, you know, from my mum is like, are you going to be okay at the end of this? Like, you know, I can’t give you that emotional support because I don’t understand what going through by having Peter and Min in our lives, you know, so whenever, you know, mum and dad would come up, we would invite everyone over for dinner, you know, we have a lovely outdoor space so we could all just sit outside and chat and stuff. And, you know, so Peter and Min would make the effort like, and I praise them so much because

hard work sometimes, but they made that effort and gave her that reassurance that they’re here for the right reason, that they’re not going to use and use me. And so, you know, whilst I’m sure if I did, you know, sit down and really talk to her about it and force her to have the conversations we could, but I also respect the fact that she sometimes just needs time to process and you know, we’re only seven months, seven months post birth. Sometimes it just needs a little time. But I think having early conversation, I guess going back to your question is having early conversations with your family. If that’s

considering talking about baby boomers to give them time to process information because this you know might not have been around or they might not know what surrogacy in Australia is like and they have that mentality of commercial surrogacy you know that you know use and abuse see you later type thing rather than you know how it is all about friendships and stuff like that so having earlier conversations with family members about your intentions just so then it’s not a surprise like oh hey yeah by the way I’m pregnant for someone else.

friends and family about this model of how it can work. So there were some of the challenges. What a classic question is often post-birth, you know, how did you go, you know, coping? Did you want the baby or did you have any wobbles or struggles post-birth that are worth mentioning? I didn’t feel like Max was ever mine.

never felt like I wanted to keep him. But like any pregnancy, like you get your three day blues. I ended up falling quite ill after birth. So I ended up with a sinus infection. So I had to stay away from everyone, which made it hard. So I had a, you know, my big three day blues, cry and stuff like that. And I had lots of, I guess, ups and downs, but they were just like, you know, now I look back on it. I go, oh, that was just, you know, I felt, you know, alone some of the time or I didn’t have, I like to have labels.

this fits here, this fits here, and once it has a label and a place it’s fine and I process it but I felt like a lot of my feelings didn’t have a label and there was a lot of you know so when I started to reduce my pumping and my period started coming back that hormone shift was horrific so I reckon I was about 16 weeks and I reckon that was probably my worst part of it I was like you know what is purpose why am I here why you know I’m sitting here all by myself I

like I should be doing something else, my body’s not quite right, I just want to go for a run, my pants don’t fit, you know, and then I had my period and it finished and I was like, oh I’m back.

Crazy Jen is gone. I think that’s a great example though that that could be 16 weeks post-birth and still an evolving thing. You don’t know when your body’s going to adjust and it might depend on how much milk you’ve been pumping and if you decrease that and when your cycle comes back. So that’s a really great lesson that go gently on yourself if you do because you might have those limbo wobbles at some point. We’d planned to have like a I was forcing the party I’d say. I was forcing a post pumping party on everyone because I was like we should celebrate my boobs and no I got sick again.

Ended up with COVID this time. So we were meant to celebrate my last night, have a party, have some ice cream, caramel sundae in fact. But unfortunately I was sick, so we had to cancel. Really sat in my thoughts and I was like, I’ve realized that I never did this for praise from other people. Like I am very well aware that my hams comes from within and that if I am waiting for stuff from other people, I’m always gonna miss a ball. So I ended up having a post-pumping party by myself. I went and bought myself flowers and I’m organizing to get some jewelry.

remade with some of the breast milk that I kept and I had a caramel sundae and I sat outside with the dogs and I just celebrated myself and I didn’t realize that that’s what I actually needed. I needed my time to process my emotions, congratulate myself and be proud of myself for you know what I achieved in the last 12 months. Well done, we are proud of you too. You’ve done a fantastic job there creating and growing a human and providing him with so much milk. It’s an amazing thing to have

only once you’ve been a surrogate, you sort of go, yeah, it was pretty big on what we did. We made life. Yeah. What a cutie. He is. He’s talk like babbling and let me still have a unique bond. He loves love to chat with me and always get lots of smiles out of him. It’s nice, you know, having that friendship that continual friendship. I get so many updates from Peter Min all the time. And you know, how often do you see each other in person now these days? Probably once a month, depending on illness.

schedules you know because my life is crazy. And there’s an extra child to fit in now. Yeah that’s right and so you know but we still try and go out for dinners because we do all very much love food that is our thing so we do. Food language. Yeah. Food language. I think we’ve wowed them tonight there haven’t been many questions on that because I think we’ve just been covering it all and I think you’ve got you know your own crowd here they don’t necessarily need ask the questions because they

I think it’s always nice to have it like captured in one go here. I hope it’s been nice for you to take a trip down memory lane and to summarize that journey. Are there other things that you’d like to add that you’re proud of, of your team or that you found challenging or some advice to summarize it all? I still remember one of our first conversations. You’re like, it’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint. That for me really stuck. And I am glad that, you know, I had your support, Dani’s support at the start because like I finished work at 37 weeks.

broke down the day after that I’d stopped work because we had spent that time getting to know each other as a team that my partner was away again he likes to work away and I was able to like just bring Peter and me and be like I’m not okay I’m I know you’re gonna drop some stuff off for me for dinner tonight but can you just stay I just need someone with me right now and had we not built that friendship and spent that time and energy at the start you know building the friendship understanding the communication and the

ever. So I was able to have them in my space and me be vulnerable and like and verbal diarrhea. Everything that was going on in my head which was you know rational, irrational, a lot of both but yeah I was able to just you know share with them and have them be my support people when my support person wasn’t here and you know let them in some parts of pregnancy outcomes. Yes but again a credit to your team that you built up that trust so that people that you did feel comfortable to comfortable to be vulnerable with.

that’s a credit to your team of the true friendship that you’ve built. We who were, I guess, ultimately been by your side through this journey, we’re so proud of you and your whole team that you followed the recipe, if you like. You took the suggestions of doing the marathon, not the sprint. You took your time, sorry, dating. You got to know each other genuinely as friends and build that actual friendship that’s not just about surrogacy. And you’ve continued that post-birth. I think you’re a credit to the community, as individuals and as a team. Well done. Thank you. Something Kayla and I had talked about.

When we first joined the community, I was like, yeah, I’m going to be pregnant in six months, having someone’s baby. And that was our expectation. And then you realise that, yeah, you need to not have that expectation. 2021, when I first joined and gave birth, end of 2023. And if you do that, that’s where problems occur. And you do see teams break down, something I definitely didn’t want to happen. So I’m glad that we took it slow. Thank you so much for joining me.

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