Friday, August 16, 2013

How do surrogates get pregnant?

It is always interesting to hear what people think about surrogacy. Most people have a different understanding of how surrogates get pregnant.

(This is my 3rd attempt at this blog post, the other two disappeared on my phone. They were brilliant, just so you know)

My most recent encounter-

Them: "So, will they extract all your eggs and replace them with the Intended Mom's eggs?"
Me: "No. They have embryos and they will transfer the embryos to my uterus."

Interesting thought though. Later I thought, "And what about the sperm? It takes more than eggs. What did they think they do with the sperm?"

I am not making fun of anyone's interpretation of the process. I find it fascinating because I never thought about it before I lived it. I wonder what I would have thought if someone had asked me before I learned about surrogacy and became a surrogate. Surrogacy is my life and I am here to help people understand it better.

What I don't like is when someone thinks that surrogates get pregnant "the old fashioned way". Nope, at least most of us don't. There are unfortunately some wackadoodles out there and TV and movies would like to think we do. There are Traditional Surrogates who use their own eggs AND carry the pregnancy. And I'm pretty sure in the old days, they did do it the old fashioned way. The absolute worst is when someone compares surrogacy to prostitution. Those people are purely ignorant!!

So then, how DO surrogates get pregnant?

I'm not an expert, but I have gone through 6 embryo transfers and I am preparing for a 7th. What I know is what I have experienced.

Gestational Surrogacy: Fresh  and Frozen Embryo Transfers

With gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is only a carrier, she does not contribute any genetic material.

 

The protocols vary, but for the most part, the surrogate will take a combination of medications, shots and/or suppositories to prepare her body and uterus for pregnancy. It is important to prepare the uterine lining for embryo implantation. If the Intended Mom is using her eggs, the surrogate and IM will usually take birth control pills to sync their periods before starting the other medications. If an egg donor is used, then the surrogate and egg donor will sync their cycles. Surrogates are monitored through ultrasounds and blood draws to make sure their body is reacting to the medications like they should. The eggs are retrieved as well as the sperm and embryos are created. The embryos "grow" for 3-5 days and hopefully get to the blastocyst stage before transferring. If the surrogate's uterine lining is nice and thick with no issues, the embryo(s) are transferred into her uterus through a catheter. Usually 1-3 embryos are transferred depending on the embryo quality. 



The surrogate is usually placed on bed rest for 24-72 hours. 





This varies by doctor/clinic. Some surrogates don't do any bed rest, some do light bed rest, others do strict bed rest. Approximately 2 weeks after the embryo transfer, the surrogate does a blood test (HCG/Beta) to see if she is pregnant. If she is, she will stay on medications/shots a little longer to sustain the pregnancy. If not, she will stop medications and if all parties agree, they will start over and try again. 

For a frozen transfer, the embryos are created the same and then frozen at day 3-5. The surrogate will not need to sync up with the IM or egg donor for a frozen cycle.Typically frozen transfers are faster in preparation. The embryos are thawed a day or two before the transfer. Not all embryos survive the thaw. Some people say frozen transfers have a higher success rate. Sometimes a fresh transfer is done, but there are leftover embryos which are frozen.

Traditional Surrogacy

I don't know a lot about the process, sorry!  The Intended Father's sperm is used to inseminate the surrogate. I don't believe shots are involved, but maybe a few medications. (?) Some surrogates inseminate at home with a simple turkey baster, but it is more common now to be inseminated at the Dr.'s office or fertility clinic. 

So, now you know how we really get pregnant. If you need more pictures and simpler terms about surrogacy , I have a book for that!  

:-)




3 comments:

  1. Your so awesome :P I love teaching people about surrogacy this is a pretty awesome post about it !! SHARING!! PS Love your pics... I always forget about pics on my blog :P

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  2. I find your blog absolutely fascinating. I have always been intrigued by the idea of surrogate parenting. Thank you for sharing your journey!

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Thank you for your comments! I'll try to return the favor.