My wife is pregnant. It’s not mine…

…. and it’s not hers, either.  She is acting as a surrogate for someone else.  

We initially signed up to do this without knowing who the intended parent would be.  We (mostly she, but I had to some of this) signed on with an agency, expecting this would be for someone we had never met before.  But, when she started telling some of her friends about this, one said she had been in the process of looking for a surrogate, and asked if my wife would do it for her.  So, in the end, the intended parent will be someone we know, and are friends with.  That’s been nice, to get to see her excitement and anticipation grow as we get closer.  The baby mamma’s parents are also super excited; the mom is an only child, so this will likely be their only grandchild.  It’s definitely a nice feeling, knowing that all we are putting into this is going to cause such happiness for someone else.  

She’s due on November 1, so about 6 weeks left.  That means that it’s really, really obvious she is pregnant, so of course we get lots of comments from random people all the time*.   Depending on the question and the situation, my wife will often respond that the baby is not ours, which leads to reactions in two main categories:

  1. Wow, that’s so amazing!  What a gift to give someone!  You are so awesome!
  2. Wow, I could never do that because...
    1. pregnancy was awful for me, I can’t imagine doing that again for someone else
    2. it would be too much like giving up my own baby.  Won’t it be hard to birth a baby and then give it up right away?

For 2.1, my wife had very easy pregnancies for both of our kids.  And so far, everything is going fine this time.  She’s getting more and more uncomfortable, but nothing more than the usual third trimester issues (back pain, swollen legs and ankles, exhausted, sore all over, etc.).

And for 2.2, it really hasn’t been a problem for us at all.  This has never been our child, so it’s not like we are giving away our own kid.  Some of that is having no genetic connection; this was IVF, with the intended mother’s egg and donor sperm.  But I think more of it is just the mindset that it isn’t our baby.  When we started this, I was a little worried how our kids would respond to this, but they seem to completely understand that this is not our baby.  They say momma is growing a baby for someone else.  It’s kind of like babysitting, just for a long time (and internally instead of externally, but sort of alike at least).

It’s a new situation for us, but not in a bad way.  It does feel a bit weird to be dealing with a pregnancy and preparing for a birth, while not at all preparing for a baby.  It’s not like we need to be getting a room ready, or setting up a crib, or getting baby clothes, or anything else.  The intended mom is doing all that, of course, but that’s not our job.  Once the baby comes, our part of this is done.

I don’t know for sure if we’ll do it again for someone else, but that’s definitely a strong possibility, depending on how this last month and a half goes.  I know agencies are always very interested in having women with previous surrogacy experience do it again.  That way, the biggest worry the intended parent could have (that you’d run off with their kid to a state with less favorable surrogacy laws [like Michigan; if you birth a baby there, it’s legally yours] before it’s born and keep it for yourself) gets allayed a bit.

Overall, so far so good.  We’ve been very happy with it, the new intended family is super excited, and all the pains and problems my wife has had (both during the pregnancy, and the many, many hormone shots at the beginning of all this) have been as expected.  I know doing this is not something for everyone, but based on how well this has gone, I think it really is something for us.


*I don’t really understand why seeing a woman that appears to be pregnant makes strangers feel that they have a right to ask invasive, personal questions.  I personally don’t mind all that much, and I don’t think my wife does, either, but I’m sure there are others in different circumstances that would.

18 thoughts on “My wife is pregnant. It’s not mine…”

  1. I agree with Free, good on you for helping someone like that. What's also crazy is that the sister of one of my college buddies lives near me and I saw a couple weeks ago that she was pregnant. He told me she is also doing the surrogate thing. Must be a good time of year to do it, or something.

    1. Before we started this, I had never known anyone who had done it before, but it must be more common than I thought, since a bunch of people who we have talked with about this know someone else who has done it before. I know it's also more common out here in California, since the laws here are more favorable for surrogacy than many other states are.

  2. I don’t really understand why seeing a woman that appears to be pregnant makes strangers feel that they have a right to ask invasive, personal questions.

    I, too, have never understood this. Or many of the other permutations on child-related commentary. The "when are you going to have kids" thing or the "are you going to have more?" thing, etc. Being the oldest of 13, I can assure you, my folks heard many many comments. (That said, I'm guessing I've been guilty of it before too. Almost certainly not with strangers, at least. But... with people I know, probably.) At the same time though... I've never really been offended by it when it happens. It's almost like it's an opportunity to widen someone's worldview, and those chances don't come up all that often with strangers? I dunno.

  3. I think it's pretty cool that someone would be willing to give of themselves as your wife is. That's a remarkable gift.

    I do have a question though... and this is obviously a question that would be more properly addressed to the mother/father, and not the surrogate, but... maybe you (or others) have some ideas on this? Anyway, the question I find myself wondering about is, in some form, "why surrogacy as opposed to adoption?" I don't mean any judgement in asking the question. I just happen to know plenty of folks who have adopted and/or people who have been adopted, so in my world that's an idea that comes more immediately to the forefront than surrogacy. It just makes me curious if there's a reason to do one over the other, or if they're really not even the types of things that should be compared, as they're fundamentally different, etc.

    1. One could ask similarly why anyone would have their own kids when there's always kids that need adopting. I know for me anyway there's a strong impulse to raise my own genetics rather than someone else's. Some of it is vanity (e.g. I like myself and want to raise a better version of me) and some of it is anxiety about raising "someone else's problems." like if the adopted kid had mental illness or a genetic disease. I know people who deal with that by doing both (making their own children and adopting). It takes a stronger and less selfish person than I to adopt.

      1. I guess I'm making certain assumptions about ability to have one's own children re: surrogacy and adoption, that distinguishes those options from having one's own kids. To the extent that ability is completely divorced from the question, I suppose "why have your own?" should be included in that conversation.

        But on some level, I think you're kind of getting at what seems... unusual to me. I don't know that I have an abstract preference for raising my own genetics qua genetics. Isn't the preference for the persons themselves, not the genetics? I dunno... I really have no answers for this, it just seems like there are fascinating questions I should be thinking about.

        1. I should clarify that that "unusualness" I mention is simply that there would be a preference at all, I guess. Again, I mean no judgement whatsoever. I just simply don't know how, if I were standing in the shoes of someone who could not have kids, I would feel about those preferences, one way or the other. Maybe I would feel strongly, maybe not, etc.

          1. I think it's instinctive to want to raise a child "of your own". I seems to me it would be obvious that adoption is a valid path for a couple who could not conceive (my oldest brother has three adopted children), but there are cases where a couple CAN conceive but the ability of the natural mother to carry the child is not an option, and in this case surrogate motherhood certainly makes sense.

    2. One issue with adoption is that, if you want to raise a child from an infant, your options are limited in how to do that. Most of the children who are most in need of a new home are significantly older than that. Trying to adopt a baby from birth often means going through an adoption agency, which now makes the whole thing cost almost as much as surrogacy would, and it frequently means adopting from overseas.

      We've also done some work toward getting ready to adopt a child through our county, and in the first of the required classes, they make it very clear that your likelihood of getting an infant through adoption from the county is close to zero. About the only way it happens is for babies that come through the Safe Surrender program, and those instances are pretty rare (like about 5 a year in all of San Bernardino County, with a population of just over 2 million people). They tell all prospective adoptive families that if you are only interested in adopting an infant, you are in the wrong place, and it is very likely you will be time out after three years on the prospective adoption list before you get a placement.

      Another reason for some people could be the desire to have a child that looks like themselves. Some of that can be for reasons of vanity, but some of those could be from feeling unprepared to raise a child with a different race than yourself. Even in a diverse area like Southern California, families interested in adoption are overwhelmingly white, while kids in the foster care system are a closer match the racial makeup of the area. There may be many families who do not feel like they can give a child of color the tools they may need to thrive in a society that is often biased against them.

      1. I knew infant adoption was rare, but I did not realize it was that rare. Indeed, I can see how that would make all the difference in itself, even before looking at the particular intricacies of any specific adoption. Thanks!

        1. NCFA was interested to see that the number of infant adoptions has remained mostly steady from 2007; there was even a small increase from 18,078 in 2007 to 18,329 in 2014. Although the number of domestic adoptions represents only 0.5 percent of all live births and 1.1 percent of births to single parents, researchers saw no decrease this year after noting a decrease in every other “By the Numbers” report since 1992.

          Source: National Council for Adoption. Adoption by the Numbers. February 2017.

          There were just over 110,000 total adoptions in the US in 2014, so 18,000+ infant adoptions represents about 16 percent of total adoptions. Births to teenage mothers have declined significantly, which affects the supply of domestic infants available for adoption. Births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 dropped almost in half from 2007 to 2015 (from just over 40 to just over 20).

      2. Yes, what Mike said. Adoption is very difficult these day and takes a long time (years) under the best of circumstances. It's costly too, but not sure what it is comparable to surrogacy.

        As someone who has adopted and got a kid "the old fashioned way," both are fascinating and I'm glad I got to experience both. Doubtful I'll have an opportunity to add surrogacy as a third way to have a child however :o)

  4. Thanks for sharing this, and good luck in the final weeks!

    Will your wife have some time to recover after the birth? To me, between all the physical weirdness after giving birth and the intense hormones, that seems like it could be one of the toughest parts.

    1. She will take some time, but since it's not our baby, neither of us get parental leave for it. So, it will basically just mean taking some sick days. She has a very light teaching load this semester (only one class), so she figures that she should be able to take it easy some, even if she is going in to teach two days a week. Plus, she is expecting it will be easier to rest and recuperate than it was for our two boys, since there won't also be the sleepless nights up with a baby going on right after we get home.

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