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Surrogate Feature: Katie’s Twin Surrogacy Journey.

Current IVF trends have moved toward Single Embryo Transfer (SET). But some surrogate mothers are willing to allow transfer of two embryos, which increases the chance of a multiples pregnancy. Carrying twins during a surrogacy journey is an incredible way to help someone start their family or even help them complete it. We sat down (virtually) with Surrogate Katie. Katie  is in her second trimester of her second surrogacy journey and is currently pregnant with twins.

When did you first consider becoming a surrogate and why? and why did you decide to become a surrogate again?  I’m not sure how I first found out surrogacy was an option, but the seed was planted in my life when a dear friend of mine disclosed that she has always been told she wouldn’t be able to have children. At the time, we were freshmen in college, sitting in my dorm room pouring our hearts out after a late night of studying. After she told me that about herself, I immediately offered up my services! We even made a silly little “contract” that we both signed saying that if, in fact, she wasn’t able to carry a pregnancy, I would be her surrogate. Thankfully, she never had to revisit that contract and is actually expecting at this very moment. For me, though, it was that silly night of girls becoming friends that would have a far more profound influence on my future. After the wonderful experience with the first surrogacy and the uneventful pregnancies I am fortunate to have had in the past, I knew I wanted to be able to experience that at least one more time.

What is it like to carry twins as a surrogate?  Twins as a surrogate equates to a lot, and I mean a LOT, of appointments. Other than the added appointments, it’s a lot of fun. Prior to this I’ve never been pregnant with twins and I am thoroughly enjoying and learning the personalities of these two little ladies. My own children were large, around 9lbs for both my boys, so I honestly haven’t really felt all that different, at least so far! Things are growing a little faster than before, but still at a manageable pace. Sometimes I worry I’ve been a little disappointing to the Intended Parents because of the lack of drama with this pregnancy which makes me laugh. We will talk about pregnancy symptoms that are felt by most women and how those symptoms can be more exaggerated with twins, but I have been fortunate to have nothing more than a very brief bout of nausea that was easily remedied with a waffle in bed!

How was the decision made to transfer two embryos and possibly get pregnant with twins?  The two embryos that were transferred were the only embryos that qualified and one of the embryos had much less of a chance of making it than the other. Because of the increased chance that neither embryo would result in a successful pregnancy, the doctor, my husband and I, and the Intended Parents were faced with the option of transferring both and risk twins, or transfer one and risk an unsuccessful transfer. During my first pregnancy, we transferred two embryos that resulted in both taking but only one making it past eight weeks and then to birth. Because of that my husband and I had already had conversations regarding the what ifs of transferring 2 embryos. To me, the decision rested in the hands of the IPs. When they decided to proceed with both, that’s what we did!

How did your Intended Parent’s react when they found out you were pregnant with twins?   That is a funny story. Approximately five days after the embryo transfer, you have your serum (blood) HCG levels tested every couple of days to establish whether pregnancy was successful and if the embryos are progressing normally. With twins, HCG levels can be substantially higher than with singleton pregnancies. My levels, however, were indicative of a singleton pregnancy. When the IPs asked what I thought of the levels, I told them there is no way there is more than one baby in there! I was very confident in that and the pregnancy symptoms I was having were little to none. They received that information well and responded by saying that although they would love two babies, one would probably be easier to manage, especially the first time around. Fast forward to our six weeks ultrasound, the first ultrasound used to confirm the heartbeat, and wouldn’t you know it there are TWO heartbeats! The IPs maintained their composure very well at the appointment while I loudly and enthusiastically exclaimed “Holy s***, there’s two!” As to whether their freak-out moment came later on or not, I’m not sure, but they have adapted beautifully even through some stresses that occurred during our first trimester (but have fully resolved).

How has your pregnancy been carrying twins?   To the majority of women struggling with horrible nausea, fatigue, or any number of other pregnancy symptoms, close your ears and cover your eyes. This pregnancy has been incredible!  I don’t normally suffer much during normal pregnancies aside from being tired, slight nausea, and very sore other parts which is probably one of the reasons why I am so happy to carry for others. This pregnancy has been even easier! I didn’t feel nearly as tired in the beginning and, as I said earlier, I had about 3 mornings that I woke up with the tiniest bit of nausea that went away after my darling husband brought me a waffle or some toast in bed. That being said and now that I am well into the second trimester, my back will be a achy from time to time, I occasionally need a nap, sometimes my ankles get a little swollen after a long day, but to me those are just normal when growing another human or two.

What has been your favorite part of being a surrogate?   I often receive comments from people about just how selfless I am and how much they admire me for helping others fulfill their dream of starting a family, but I have to admit that there definitely is a selfish component to it. I enjoy being pregnant and I also enjoy giving birth, however usually what follows those two things is the responsibility of caring for and nurturing the life that has just entered the world. My husband and I have two boys, ages ten and four, and that is the extent of our family. We are thrilled with our boys, but we do not plan on having anymore children. Surrogacy not only fills my soul in the sense of seeing families become whole with the birth of their babies, but also fulfills my own desire to experience pregnancy and birth without the third step…and lack of sleep afterwards.

Do you have any advice to women considering becoming a surrogate and making a decision about transferring two embryos and possibly carrying twins?  To women considering becoming a surrogate, do your research, have the tough conversations with your partner or primary support person, have your support team established, and know just how freaking cool of a journey surrogacy is. If the decision is made to transfer two embryos, plan on both implanting. Pregnancy can require a lot of mental and emotional preparation, but pregnancy with multiples comes with far more risks and possibilities that make planning anything difficult. I have many coworkers and friends who will ask me questions about whether I plan on getting an epidural, having another unmedicated birth, having a vaginal delivery, or a cesarean section, or even if I think I will go into labor early. The only answer I have been able to respond with is “I don’t know.” I am currently perfecting the art of going with the flow while still trying to have the best interest of myself and the IPs. There are and will be a lot of unanswered questions that won’t have a resolution until it is already happening; however, the same could be said about any pregnancy. Good luck, have fun, and allow yourself to love in all sorts of different ways.

It is amazing to hear and share a surrogate’s unique experience.  It makes us even more grateful to be able to work with amazing women like Katie.

Are you interested in embarking on this journey to become a surrogate? Now is the best time to join our agency. We have families waiting for their surrogate! If you live in the Midwest, we are the surrogacy agency for you!  You can contact us at 913-469-5500 or at www.pathwaystoparenthood.com