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Episode 78 Transcript

Ep 78 Transcript | First-Hand Stories from a Gestational Surrogate

Eloise Drane 00:01
Hey there! Welcome back to Fertility Cafe. I’m your host Eloise Drane. Welcome to Episode 78 of Fertility Cafe. In this episode, I want to share with you the real-life story of one gestational surrogate and what the experience was like from her perspective. The first successful gestational surrogacy took place in 1985. According to the Council for Responsible Genetics, there are no widely agreed upon statistics that can tell us just how many women have been surrogates and just how many babies have been born through surrogacy. However, a study from 2004 to 2008 showed that approximately 5000 babies were born through surrogacy over those five years. Now, 14 years later, the industry has grown and we can expect those numbers to be even higher. On with me today, we have a special guest, Heathyr served a two-time surrogate who completed her first surrogacy journey in November of 2020. And now almost two years later, is currently pregnant with her second surrogate baby. Well, hello, Heathyr! Welcome and thank you so much for being here.

Heathyr Suhr 01:12
Yeah, thank you for asking. I was so excited when I saw your email.

Eloise Drane 01:15
Awesome. Well, I’m excited to dive in. I know we have a lot to talk about. But first, just curious if you wouldn’t mind kind of starting with what was your motivation to want to become a surrogate.

Heathyr Suhr 01:30
So, I worked at an OB-GYN office for about six years, I started before my daughter was born and she’s seven now. Even before I had her I was pregnant, I loved just like getting to know the maternity patients that would come and you know, towards the end, they start coming in weekly. And I was just like, it’s just so cool. You’re like growing a baby. It’s just amazing. And then obviously, I got pregnant with my daughter, I loved being pregnant, I had no issues. I was sick for maybe like a week with her. You know, like never any issues. I wasn’t, you know, no medications, no high-risk doctor or anything like that was like the perfect pregnancy. I just really enjoyed it. And after she was born, I was like, I love her so much but I definitely don’t want another child, at least right now. But I loved being pregnant. So actually, and then I had met a surrogate at the OB office and I she would see the doctor that I usually roomed for so I would ask her a lot of questions about I was like, “Oh, my gosh, is it your baby? Are you getting…” you know, just when you don’t know at first, and she actually taught me a lot of I mean, she’s like, “Oh, my gosh, no, I just- I enjoyed pregnancy.” I was like, wow, I enjoy pregnancy too. Like, you know, who can I talk to about this? And she had actually connected me with her agency. And I just reached out just asking a lot of questions. At the time, my daughter was only like six months. So I knew it would be a while before I wanted to actually do it. But also if I could just get more information, and you know, I don’t really want to do it right now with my daughter being so young, but definitely, something to think about. I thought about it for a long time. And then I actually reached back out to that agency when my daughter was 4. And got the process started. Because I was like, wow, this is something I still want to do. And I still don’t want any more children of my own. I just loved being pregnant. So why not, you know, help grow a family?

Eloise Drane 03:10
So I think people don’t realize that surrogacy is like phases that you go through just to get to be, say, I want to become a surrogate, right? So, the first stage is like, oh, okay, yeah, this is something that I can do. And then you kind of get into your head like- and you have agreed within yourself- you’re capable. Yeah. Then the second phase, I feel is now I have to share it with my family and get their perspective. So, how did that go?

Heathyr Suhr 03:40
Even when I first like when I say when my daughter was like six months, I’m very close with both of my parents. But I talked to my mom just more especially about like pregnancy-related things, you know, and I actually had told her right away I was like, that’s just, I mean, this girl is having a baby for someone else, like how amazing! and she’s like you love being pregnant, like, I love being pregnant, I wish I could do that. So just sorry, mom, like, I think you’ve already reached the cutoff. But you know what, she was very supportive. I do have six sisters. And I did share it with all of them. And they were like, wow, like, you know, they just had so many questions about surrogacy, but so supportive, my close group of friends, I did tell them like that I was thinking about it just because I wanted other perspectives. And everyone was just so so so supportive because they knew just how much I loved being pregnant, and how great like how easygoing my pregnancy was, and they were like, Well, why not? You know? So very, very supportive. So I’m very lucky for that.

Eloise Drane 04:29
Now, did you have a partner or a spouse at the time? No, I did not. Okay. So there wasn’t anybody that you needed to really like? Not ask for permission because…

Heathyr Suhr 04:42
But yeah, if I had had a partner, obviously, that would be a very big because if they wouldn’t want you could do something like that. I mean- you want support. And honestly I don’t know if I would have moved forward if none of my family was supportive, even though it’s something I wanted to do. I always want not their permission, like you said, but just to know me supported and cared for and loved, and I’m and they were there for me every step of the way. So

Eloise Drane 05:04
And it’s very difficult, quite honestly, I mean, even in our agency, we wouldn’t even accept anybody who didn’t have support because

Heathyr Suhr 05:12
I think that’s good because it’s important to get support and if something goes wrong, which it happens, I mean that support means everything and can help you along more than you would think.

Eloise Drane 05:23
Yes, yes, support is huge. And you must have it to do surrogacy, there’s just no way around it. So looking back on your experience, how do you feel about your first surrogacy journey? So let’s kind of- well, before you know what, before we even go there, can you walk me through, okay, you finally decided four years later that you’re going to become a surrogate, then what happened?

Heathyr Suhr 05:48
So like I said, I’d reach back out to the agency. And that’s kind of like the first phases where you don’t realize the phases like what you were saying, because I was like, Oh, my gosh, I’ll probably find a couple really soon and be pregnant before I you know, it’s not really. So, you know, so I went ahead and like I said, I only had that one pregnancy. So I, you know, you have to have your physical done and get that updated to make sure everything’s still okay. Like the mental evaluation, and, of course, it’s something I thought about, and I know, I definitely could never be a traditional surrogate. I don’t even know if that’s still legal in some states. But I could never do that because that’s just too personal. Even though people are like, how do you give it away? I was like, it’s not mine to keep? You know, it’s like, if any of my sisters were pregnant, any of my best friends, I’m so happy for them. And I don’t want to take that baby home, you know, so I’m very happy with my just one daughter. But yeah, I kind of just started from the bottom of the list to check things off, to make sure I was healthy enough to carry another pregnancy, not that I’d had any health issues, but you just don’t know, you know, what an ultrasound will show when you haven’t had a child in four years. And luckily, everything was okay. And I was able to move forward. But yeah, just kind of checking all the boxes off to make sure I was healthy and mentally okay, and ready to take the next step of actually starting to meet parents and those things.

Eloise Drane 07:06
I know you signed up with that agency. But before then, did you look at any other agencies? Did you do any due diligence, did you?

Heathyr Suhr 07:14
I did not and I regret that decision now, it all ended up working out. But I definitely wish that I had researched other agencies or just other routes. I do know a lot of people that had successful journeys without an agency, I don’t think I would personally ever do that. Just because I know that you need the agency’s support and how there’s so many things that you could miss if it’s not if there’s not an agency there to support you and, and help you check those boxes off. So I do think that’s very important. I feel like any journey is great but I personally would always want to work with an agency. They are the- you know, you guys are the professionals. So no, I did not, that’s the agency that my friend had done it with the girl I met at the OB office. And she was actually on her third surrogacy journey with them at the time and had always had luckily picture perfect journeys. And at the time, I was just so clueless and was like, nothing can go wrong. It’s going to be a perfect journey. She’s had all perfect journeys and been with them. So I just I didn’t even look up any other agencies. I just went with them. That was my mistake.

Eloise Drane 08:18
So now let’s talk about your first journey. So, you started with the agency, they cleared you. They said, yes, you’re ready to get started, we’re going to match you with a family. Did they present a profile to you? Was that the first profile that you decided to go with? So what about that.

Heathyr Suhr 08:40
So they did present me with profiles just based off like, I felt like I was on going to go on a dating show or something, you know, the profile that you have to fill it out of like, what you’re looking for in a couple, doesn’t matter if they’re single or married, same sex, you know, just everything their religious beliefs, their termination beliefs. So I did talk with a few couples that I ended up not wanting to work with. I don’t think they were awful. They were not for me, and I definitely will, I really wanted a great journey. One was like, ‘You need to write down every single thing you eat, I would like to have a list of all cleaning products in your home.” And I was like, “I really hope you find your match but I don’t think that’s me.” Because not that I’m sitting here eating McDonald’s every day. but I’m not going to write down every single meal, like- I have a child and life, you know. So that just was not a match for me. And the other one, even though in my profile I had put down it was very important to me to have a close relationship, this is not my child, I want- obviously, I understand people can’t come to every appointment especially if they live states away. But I was like, you know, FaceTime every time- you know, and they had said they wanted that, but then when I talked to them, and like on a video call about it, they were like, oh, no, like, you could just call us after the appointment and tell us how it went. And I was like, I don’t think we’re gonna be you know, and I just let the agency know that I didn’t think that person was a great match for me at least because that’s just not the relationship that I wanted. So I did meet those two other couples. And like I said, it just didn’t work out with them.

Eloise Drane 10:05
And then you then met, you’re then first couple that you carried for

Heathyr Suhr 10:09
I did, yeah.

Eloise Drane 10:11
And then now, did you guys meet in person? Was it just video? How was that?

Heathyr Suhr 10:18
So they live pretty far away from me. It wasn’t in America, but it was pretty far away. So it was a zoom call. When I looked over their profile, it matched my profile very closely, of like the relationship. They wanted contact after the child was born. There’s like pictures and updates. They wanted to be in the delivery room, which of course, I was, like, who wants to miss there? You know, I understand that maybe it’s kind of awkward but when you’re having a baby, I mean, you should be there for that. That’s such an important thing, you know. So I definitely wanted a couple that wanted to be in the room. Obviously, this was before COVID. So I didn’t know honestly, with my daughter, I had like, 10 people in the room? I think so I was like, I don’t- you know, I would just like you to be in the room. So in the termination, just what our beliefs were, you know, I had said only for like extensive medical issues, or if my life is in danger, or the child’s- like just for minor things. If they were missing a finger. I was like, I couldn’t mentally or in my heart do that. I just couldn’t. So and we had talked about that, even when I was like, oh, yeah, they checked all my boxes, I definitely want to have a zoom call with them. And when we weren’t, we talked for probably like an hour and a half. Like we talked for a long time. And just I felt like we clicked. But I did notice looking back now, the mom and I pretty much did all the talking and the dad was just kind of sitting there, which I just felt like maybe you guys just don’t get as involved. Not always but sometimes. And you know, when I was pregnant with my daughter, the dad didn’t really come to appointments- we were- we lived together, we were dating, but I worked at the OB office, so I just like pop in a room, the doctor would see me, I think it’s just some guys just aren’t into that. He was in the delivery room but so I was like, I think that’s what I was thinking in my head at the time. Well, looking back, I was like that was a red flag. He just really didn’t care to be involved at all. Even like in the end and the appointments like never was on the video calls for appointments or anything. But like I said at the beginning we clicked so well, me and the mom, and just had a great relationship, in the beginning.

Eloise Drane 12:10
So then the transfer happened. So we go through the process, go to the medical screening with their fertility clinic, you guys do your gestational surrogacy agreement. Were all of those smooth processes?

Heathyr Suhr 12:23
Yes, great. Even because I had to go there for the medical, like I said, this was pre-COVID at first. So I had to fly there for the medical workup. And I actually stayed at their house. The dad was out of town. But I stayed with the mom, we went to breakfast, we went shopping, we just like hung out all day. She picked me up from the airport, took me back. I mean, like I was like pretty much considering her one of my best friends. We were just like every day, she would still like how are you feeling? Are you- and the guy have even started medications yet, you know, at that point. So just like just so caring, and everyday, she’s like, I’m just so blessed to have you. And I’m so thankful that I found you and you know, someone that I clicked with, because she had said she had met some other surrogates that just didn’t want the same things as her, and just how lucky she was to have found me. That’s how I felt I was like, Oh my gosh, this is exactly how my first journey to go. Like, you know, just always remember, which I will definitely always remember. But just things changed a lot. I will say that.

Eloise Drane 13:15
So you had your transfer. Yeah, and was it successful on the first attempt?

Heathyr Suhr 13:20
But my first transfer was not successful. And actually, the parents were both out of town. They both had like some sort of meetings or something where they just could not be there. And her best friend actually had picked me up from the airport taken me to the transfer, take me back to the hotel, and it didn’t work, but they were just very hopeful. They’re like “We’re gonna try again.” And it was so quick I like I said, I’d never been through this and a lot of the surrogates I’d spoke to had first transfers work. So I was like, Oh my gosh, and I was very upset at first I was like, “What did I do wrong?” you know, did I take my medication 30 minutes late one day, you know, and the doctor explained you did nothing wrong, it just it can stick or it doesn’t stick you know, it’s it wasn’t a miscarriage, it just can happen. So I like stopped all the medications, I waited for my period to start and then I- we restarted medications. My first transfer failed in December and our second transfer was in February. So it was a very, they were just so eager to- well, the mom was so eager to just start again and try again. And she’s like, you know, we’ve waited 10 years for this. So what’s what’s another month for you to get your period and restart meds, you know, and that was we were just both very excited and hopeful about it.

Eloise Drane 14:25
So and then the second transfer happened and did that one take?

Heathyr Suhr 14:29
It did take, it did work. And that was actually gosh, I think at my first ultrasound, so I was like maybe five weeks when they have like your first confirmation ultrasound at the fertility clinic. The next week, everything closed down for COVID like fertility clinics closed down. Anything- you know, that’s when COVID really hit and things started getting crazy.

Eloise Drane 14:52
So yes, let’s talk about the crazy. March 2020, COVID came along. And then, did you have any communication or with the intended parents during this whole time?

Heathyr Suhr 15:08
So yes, actually on the way, and the dad was in the healthcare field, I will say that, so he knows, like the importance of masks, washing hands, you know, things like that. So and like I said, this is not that I didn’t wash my hands, but I had never worn a mask, really, you know, really for anything, because why would we have? Now it’s like, you look back, and that seems so normal, but it was not normal at the time. And he had asked me, I remember on the way to the second transfer, he was like, “Do you mind to wear a mask on the plane?” And I was like, “Why?” And he was like, well, there’s been some rumors about, like, a sickness or, you know, I don’t know, if he said sickness when he said, it definitely wasn’t a pandemic yet. And I would just feel more comfortable if you could wear a mask. And I was like, Oh, well, sure. Like, I don’t- I don’t mind. So I have took a picture of myself with a mask on like the, you know, on the plane. And I was like, if that’s what they need me to do that I want them to be reassured that like, I’m doing whatever I can to knock it whatever the sickness is, that spreading around. I mean, it was, like I said, it was pretty far it was like a seven-hour flight. So you know, I just kept in my little space with my mask on and, and I thought everything would just be fine. And I was very excited. And just hopeful, like I said.

Eloise Drane 16:14
So, you have the transfer, you have the confirmation of heartbeat, and then walk me through kind of like from what happened then until delivery.

Heathyr Suhr 16:25
So even at the very first one, like I said, I think I was about five weeks, they were still hopeful and excited. Like I said, and even though things were shutting down, it was just so new, you know, the baby’s just so tiny, then, well, then at my second confirmation ultrasound, I believe it was like a week later. Obviously, there’s still a heartbeat, the baby was still fine, and I was so excited. We were on FaceTime, while I was on FaceTime with the mom. And you know, just showing her the ultrasound. I was like, you want me to mail you these pictures? And she’s like, No, I don’t think I need them. You know, we’ll just talk to you later. Let me know when your next appointment and I was like just kind of acted weird. And like I said, we had had a great relationship, that was just not like her, kind of taken aback by that. Well, later that day, I had gotten a message, an email from my match manager who was kind of like our contact, but it’s kind of different from the career aid like your guys’ agency, it’s not I didn’t have someone, they didn’t have some we had one match manager that kind of managed both of us. Any issues or appointments and things like that. So honestly, that should have been my first red flag. But, so she had asked me to call her right away. And I was like, Oh, my goodness, what’s going on? You know, like, I just had no idea. Well, she had said that she had a letter for me that she wanted to read to me from the parents. And I was like “a letter?” like, I was just very confused. And I was actually at work. And I was like, she’s like, well, call me after work. I don’t think you want this. You won’t- you don’t need to read this to you while you’re at work. And I was like, well, I can’t sit here for four more hours and not know, I need to know what this letter is. But pretty much the letter- I don’t remember exactly what it said. But it was like along the lines of, you know, thank you for doing this for us, we really appreciate you but due to COVID going on, and we don’t know what will happen or what to expect, we would like you to have a termination. When COVID is over, we’ll try again. That was pretty much the letter. And I was just like, “what?” I mean, and just bawling. I couldn’t even like speak because I was just so stunned. I was like, “What do you mean, just casually have a termination for this healthy baby that? Look how long you just kept saying you waited for this child. You know, we had two transfers, you were so upset. The first one didn’t work.” And I was just so confused. And at the time, like I said the match manager just said it. So like nonchalantly. Like, I didn’t have a choice like you were she’s like so let me know, you know, you have maybe like a week because about the Ohio heartbeat bill, which is like at six weeks, you cannot have a termination after that. Like so what does have to book you on a flight to like another state and we’ll get it taken care of. And I’m just like, well, is this something I have to do? like the baby’s healthy? In my contract I specifically said I’m not going to terminate a healthy baby. For no- at this point, no reason we don’t even know what’s going on with COVID. There’s no studies yet. It literally just started this month. You know, and obviously we never, I never knew what would happen with COVID, how serious it really was. But at that time, I’m like, this baby is perfectly healthy. And that. So I had called my lawyer, I had to reach out to her and she’s like, Oh my gosh, no, this is not what you have to do. I’ve been forwards and backward in your contract. And this is not something you have to do. It’s your decision. And the couple was obviously very upset with me and said that, you know, I would regret it because if something’s wrong with their child, they’re gonna sue me. And of course, I was so stressed and scared. And oh my gosh, I felt so many emotions that I’ve never felt before. And it just was crazy. Because just like the week before, I was just so happy and excited for them. They were so happy and now this? of all things you know, I was like, Is this really happening? You know, and even like, I had called my mom right away and my sisters and they just- they couldn’t believe it either. I mean, nobody could believe it. I talked with agents and I was like, you know, actually I’m not going to be able to have a termination I had in the match meeting and everything I’ve said that I will have probably mental issues if I just terminate a healthy pregnancy. I just I cannot. And that is why I thought we did these match meetings to match on things. And, when I had met the couple, they had actually told me due to religious beliefs, they did not believe in termination, so I would never have to worry about it. So I’m like, well, what happened with that? Like, what’s going on now? Because this is not what you were saying before. And they’re like, well, we didn’t know there’d be this sickness going around. And, I was like, well, no one knows what’s going to happen with pregnancy, anything can happen with any pregnancy. And you just you have to take it one day at a time, you know, and like I said, they were very upset with me, they kept saying they were going to sue me, they were going to stop payments, and I was like stop payments, because that’s, I’m not worried about that right now. This baby’s healthy, and I’m gonna protect him. I promised you I’ll protect your child for the time that I’m carrying him and that’s what I’m, that’s what I’m going to continue to do, which they were not happy about. So I’m trying to think I was pretty early then. I mean, honestly, every day, I would just expect to wake up and have a miscarriage because I was just so stressed and so upset, and I would have nightmares about them, like forcing me to have a termination. And even the dad had called and he was like, it’s just a pill, you can just take a pill and it just, it’s fine. It won’t even be a big deal. And I was like, Well, that’s easy for you to say, because you don’t have to put yourself through that. And you know, and it was just awful. So after that the mom I had text the mom, I think and said like are you sure you don’t want these ultrasound pictures? like I feel like you guys really need to think about this. I know it’s not my child but we had an agreement about the, you know, termination beliefs and reasons. And this is not one of the reasons, you know, things like that. She’s like, I can’t speak to any more per my lawyer. So we didn’t even speak again, actually until the child was born.

Eloise Drane 21:41
You had no communication with him throughout the pregnancy?

Heathyr Suhr 21:45
At the appointments, the agency and the mom would be on the phone. But the mom would not speak to me, the agency would be like, well, the mom has a question for you, or the mom has a question for the doctor. But she wouldn’t speak to me, or ask how I was doing or anything. My doctor was like, “What’s going on?” because I had explained to my doctor what was going on because, at the first appointment with her, they were trying to say like, well, don’t you think that she should just have a termination? And the doctors like no, I wouldn’t tell any of my patients that for a healthy pregnancy. There’s no reason at this time, we don’t know. Even if Heather was to get COVID we don’t know that anything would affect the child. But at this time, there wasn’t even like COVID tests really there weren’t you know, or because it was just so new. There was no vaccine, there was nothing. So, I was scared. I was like, gosh, I hope I don’t get it. But I’m going to be careful. And that’s all I can do. Just like if it wasn’t going on. I would just if someone’s sick, I’m not gonna go around them. I’m not you know, and like I said, things were pretty much shut down. We really weren’t going anywhere. My daughter was like, we were doing home virtual school, but I just, I was like, I’m gonna keep your baby safe like I promised you that I would. And that’s how the pregnancy went. It was, like I said, the support of my family and my friends. I feel like really got me through because every day I was like, Oh my gosh, do they even want this child now? Like what’s going to happen if they end up not wanting him? You know, because you don’t even think about that with surrogacy you. You try so hard, and you put so much time, effort, and money into this. And now like you’re not excited, and it was just awful. It was horrible. But I just kept saying like, you know, at least he’s healthy, I’m just so happy that he’s healthy. And in the end, I hope that it works itself out and things get better. I just kind of took it a day at a time, a month at a time each. You know, every ultrasound, I’d be so excited. And the mom just wouldn’t speak. She didn’t- well, I still have all the pictures of the ultrasounds because I was making them a baby book, like from all my appointments. And like, when I first felt his kicks and things like that, I still have all of that stuff. Because I’m hoping that one day she will want them.

Eloise Drane 23:44
So, during this whole time, okay, so they weren’t obviously involved. And clearly, there’s an agency, what was the experience with the agency like?

Heathyr Suhr 23:54
So, I just felt like I had no support besides my friends and family. I don’t feel like- the match manager actually, I think it was in May. It was like two months after this all started, the match manager- they like, I don’t know if they laid them off or what but there was no more match managers. So I had no, I know, I was like, Well, this is the time I really need somebody for support, and I have nobody. I know that around six months, so I was like, more than halfway already, they did assign me to like a therapist within the agency that they wanted me to talk to weekly because I think they thought I was going to like, just mentally lose it or something. And like I said, I talk to my family every day about it. It’s not something that I just kept inside. I mean, I would openly talk about it. Obviously not with names or details, but you know, but I do think I’m in it. You can’t just keep things inside you have to talk about things or explode. So I feel like their support just was everything to me. But it was very hard because I kept asking the therapist, I was like what if they don’t want the child what will happen? You know, I’m just so scared for the baby. I want him to be loved and cared you know, you know? I don’t know.

Eloise Drane 25:00
Yep. So well finally you get to delivery. And what happened on that day?

Heathyr Suhr 25:08
So I was induced with my daughter. And the baby, the boy, I didn’t have gestational diabetes, but he was always measuring like over a month ahead. So he was bigger. And I’d had a growth ultrasound, I think what I was like 38 weeks, and he was already measuring eight pounds. So they had said, I could be induced at 39 weeks if I would like to. And I was like, Oh, well, that’s fine, you know, because I don’t want to have a 10-pound baby. So that’s fine. So we had the agency and the mom were on the phone, we planned the induction date with my doctor and everything because they were like, everything’s still healthy. Heather’s blood pressure is fine. So at this point, we can go ahead with an induction and she’s had one before, and I even told them I was like, you know, you guys are more than welcome to be in the room with me still. I mean, it’s still your child, I would like you to be there when he’s born.

Eloise Drane 25:55
Even though there was no communication, the entire pregnancy- never been.

Heathyr Suhr 25:59
No, but I just kept thinking of what my daughter there were so many people in the room that I honestly didn’t know. So if they were just in there, not speaking, it didn’t even bother me. just because I was like, one day they’re gonna regret if they don’t be in the room. You can’t get that moment back. But they said no, they didn’t want to be in the room. They did come to the hospital. Like I said, it was a planned induction. They did come to the hospital. In state, like they got a hotel the night before. When I went in, like, the day of the induction they called me that morning to tell me what time to be there. So I would knew I knew it would be that day. But I did not know what time, so they came the night before, which I was excited about was like, well, this is hopeful, they want to be there, at least you know. And I actually ended up needing a C-section. Because I was induced on a Wednesday night, they broke my water. And he ended up being 9 pounds 8 ounces. So, I can’t remember what it was like Shoulder Dystocia something with his shoulder being stuck on like my pelvic bone where- I was pushed for over an hour, Friday morning and he still was not coming out. And they were like, you know, it’s kind of getting dangerous at this time, your water has been broken for 24 hours over that, you know, and I was like whatever is safest, (Who wants to have a C-section?) but whatever is safest, that’s what I want. So I ended up right after, I’d push for like an hour, it was 3 am Friday morning and he was born at 4 am Friday morning by C-section.

Eloise Drane 27:14
And then obviously they took the baby out and then the baby went to the parents. Did you get to see him? touch him?

Heathyr Suhr 27:20
I did. Yep. They came to my room later that day. They brought me balloons, they brought me a necklace, they brought me candies, they were thanking me, they each wrote me a card. I know, I was like, What kind of drugs did they give me in the C-section because this is happening? And my mom had to leave the room because she was like, I’m gonna yell at both of them if I don’t leave this room because she was just so upset of what they put me through and you know, she’s like, “You’re my baby, and I have to protect you. And, you know, I don’t agree with their decision or how they were treating you, just so awful, you know, after what you’ve done for them.” I don’t like to hold grudges. Obviously, I wish that the whole experience had gotten better but like I said, I’m so happy with how it turned out. I’m so happy he was healthy. I’m so happy that I could see when they were holding him, how much they care about him. And both of them not just the mom- the mom and the dad. And he looked just like the dad. It was like a baby version of him. So I was like, you know, who can’t love him, you know? So, and I still get pictures, I get updates, I get texts, still thanking me, look at him grow, look at it, you know, happy birthday to him, you know. And I’m so thankful of how it turned out. But of course I wish that, they could have- the whole time just been happy and excited because at my 37th week appointment, I asked the agency to ask the mom since she cannot speak to me, you know, “Is her family excited?” They’ve been waiting for this. Her dad has been waiting for this- for a grandchild. Because when I stayed with her we stayed up talking all night and how excited her dad was that they were moving forward with surrogacy and you know going to have a grandchild. And, at 37 weeks, they had still not told any friends or family, which I was very concerned about at that time. He was my doctor, like after I ended the Zoom call at the appointment. She was like, should I call children services after the child is born? Like is he going to be cared for like nobody even knows he exists? Or he’s going to be born very soon. So like I said, it was a huge relief in the hospital. And like every day she would text me “Do you want to come to his room? Do you want to come” you know, and “Do you want to hold him?” do you- you know, “We’ll bring him to your room” because I’d be like wheeled around because of the C section. But it just like I said, it ended- it was a happy ending but it was just a long, stressful, not ideal journey that I would not wish on anybody.

Eloise Drane 29:34
Right? Yeah, absolutely. And did they end up apologizing at all?

Heathyr Suhr 29:40
So then I never actually got an apology. I just got a lot of thank yous for keeping him safe the whole time. Oh, and I forgot to say, right after the COVID test started hitting shelves, they did ask me to COVID test every month. And I was like if that’s what you want me to do, that’s what I’ll do. I mean, who wants to stick that thing up in their brain every month but I was like that gives you guys some relief, and I never ended up getting it, luckily. And he was healthy the whole time. I was healthy the whole time. I mean, that’s all you can ask for. Yes. So I’m just so happy it all worked out because it could have ended badly. But like I said, It all ended up working out.

Eloise Drane 30:15
Absolutely. Well, and then you decide to do another journey.

I did it. It took some time, a little bit of time, because I was like after that. I don’t know if I could do that again, you know, but I was convinced that I deserve a better journey and I can help another family, and I can do things to avoid that happening again, like looking, researching different agencies, making sure I have support from the agency and you know, things like that.

Eloise Drane 30:44
So what- kind of, was there anything that triggered you into, Okay, I’m ready and let’s go or it wasn’t just a feeling like, Okay, I’m ready now. Or?

Heathyr Suhr 30:54
I mean honestly, even though that C-section was so horrible. And I hope I feel so awful for people that have C-sections that have to take care of a baby afterwards, because I don’t even know how I could have, you know, my daughter was six, I think after the baby was actually five? five, when the baby was actually born. So she was like helping me get up to go to the bathroom up, you know, and I just needed so much help after the C-section. I couldn’t imagine taking care of a newborn at that time. But I missed being pregnant like right away. I just like I said, I just love being pregnant. But I don’t want to have another baby. So I was like, you know, it’s something I’ll think about but I just don’t know. And then I actually pumped for a different surrogate couple- their intended parents, she didn’t want to pump I pumped for them for three months. And then I pumped for a preemie bank, I pumped until I was 13 months postpartum. So I pumped for a long time. So I was like, Well, I’m not going to be a surrogate right now I you know, I just want to keep pumping. And I was trying to like, beat my numbers. I was like, Okay, if I can pump this much today, you know, so I just, I just focused on that and my daughter. It takes some- surrogacy does take a lot of your time with the appointments and the medications and side effects, and just everything. So I was like, Okay, I’m pumping, now I’m good, well, then I knew I was going to be done pumping soon, because that also takes over your life. And I planned, we went to Disney in October. So it was almost a year after I had delivered the baby. And I took my pumps with me. And that was a full time job at Disney trying to find a pumping station. So I was like, you know, I think about done pumping. I’m gonna, you know, start thinking about it again, start researching agencies again, and I did reach out to some of my surrogate friends, I was like in a surrogate group on Facebook, so not through the agency, just in general, it was like pumping for- some surrogates that are pumping or something like that. So I reached out and just like asked people about their experience with agencies- why they liked the agency? if there was something they didn’t like? because I mean, one thing could have gone wrong, not like my situation, maybe something minor, where they were like, that was the worst. And really, maybe it was, you know, maybe they were being difficult or something, you know, maybe it wasn’t actually the agency. So I just wanted to get other people’s input on agencies. And then can I say that Jessie, can I say Jesse’s name? okay. She had reached out to me, she’s like, I want to tell you about the agency that I’m with, like, it’s, I know what you’re thinking, Oh, my gosh, and other agency said, it’s nothing like that other agency. And I was like, Okay, well, if it’s nothing like them, let me get more details, because that’s what I’m interested in. And, you know, an agency that I feel like actually cares about me, that wants to support me. And I understand you have support both sides but like I said, I kind of felt like I was just like cut off from the other agency. And they did check on me, I think, a few days after the baby was born, like when I would stay in the hospital for like three days afterwards. And then I ended up getting to go home, and they did check on me, the therapist woman did. And I had said like, and I was not ever going to work with them again. But I did ask if I wanted to be a surrogate again, like, would I be able to just say, oh, yeah, you would definitely be able to but not with us. Because you wouldn’t terminate the pregnancy. So that I was like, wow, okay, thanks. You know, but not that I would want to work with you guys again. But that’s just awful that, you know, I didn’t do anything wrong. I did what I said I would do. I kept the baby safe. And, look, we never got COVID and he’s healthy, you know, so.

Eloise Drane 34:03
Yeah. So now you are now matched with another family. And how has your experience been this time around?

Heathyr Suhr 34:14
Though different, so different in a great way. Of course, it was like the same kind of dating profile that I made, you know, before where you match up with couples. This couple, the husband and wife, they’re both equally involved. Oh my god, we’re in a group chat. We talk pretty much every single day. Just so different. And like I loved in the match meeting that he was so involved, because I was like, Oh my gosh, this is so different. I wish you know that I had had this last time. So just amazing. And they are just so supportive. I’m 11 weeks along now. And the last like month and a half, I have been sicker than I was with the last two pregnancies combined, unfortunately. It is getting better now that I haven’t thrown up in like two days. So that is awesome. I’m very excited about that. But every day they’re like “What can we do? Can we send you something?” and I was like, “Well, you could send me but I probably can’t eat it because I’ve just, you know, no appetite really.” But just so supportive- “Anything we can do?” you know, and I’ve had one appointment so far with the pregnancy confirmation and then like, the OB, but each time they are on the call with me, they both are on the call, because they do live a few states away. So I understand they could not come to every appointment, but I do have an appointment in a few weeks like a, what is it, my like my second actual visit, and the mom is flying out for that, and she’s super excited. And I was like, “This is what I wanted!” like, you know, and they’re just, and they had heard the horror story. And because that was very important to me to get kind of get a couples’ reaction on the lot because I was like, Oh my gosh, if you- not that you can’t have your own opinion, but if you thought for some reason they were in the right, I don’t want to work with you, I don’t want to carry your child. And they were just like, they couldn’t believe it. They were like what, you know, how could someone even go through all of this that we’ve gone through, and then just want to terminate when the baby was perfectly healthy. And I was like, I wonder the same thing. And I don’t know, an intended parents point of view. Fortunately, I’ve you know, been able to have my daughter, but I can’t imagine that mindset being in their shoes. So just a totally different relationship. When I had the transfer. I stayed out there, like a few extra days, and one of my sisters and my daughter went with us. We had dinner every single night. So I was like you guys don’t have to like they kept, you know, we can take off early tonight, do you want to get dinner? And I was like, you don’t have to, like, I’ve never been to the city before. So I’m okay with exploring. They’re like, no, no, we want to spend all the time we can with you, which I love. I just didn’t want them to feel like they had to but they loved it. I loved it, my daughter, you know, I think it’s very important for my daughter to know the mommy and daddy. Because she knows it’s not our baby. So it’s just amazing and the best way.

Eloise Drane 36:40
So do you have any regrets?

Heathyr Suhr 36:43
I don’t want to say I have regrets. I definitely wish I had done more research the first time around, because it could have been a totally different experience. But then I think they’re, you know, whoever, if they had had another surrogate, what they would have gone through. And I just don’t want anyone to ever go through that experience. Because they might not have been as strong as me and said, like, okay, that’s what you want. I know, it’s not good for my mental health, and I know the baby’s healthy, but let’s go ahead and turn it, you know, and, and they’re just so happy. And you know, the baby’s so healthy, and he didn’t deserve that, you know, and I just so I, I don’t want to say I have regrets, because things you don’t know how things would end up and they end up how they’re supposed to. So I guess I do not. But that’s why I try to tell my story and not, you know, just, and I’m sure people will still work with that agency. I know that they do, and they have great experiences, and I’m so happy for them. But I always like to let people know that, do your research because if you get in that position, you want to have support from everybody- from the agency, you know, so it was just very scary. And like I said, my support system that’s so important to have that because you never know what will happen.

Eloise Drane 37:53
Yes, absolutely. If you had, you know, intended parents that were getting ready to consider surrogacy and are completely oblivious to everything. What would you tell them?

Heathyr Suhr 38:08
I would just say be very honest, like when you’re looking for a surrogate, I felt like I had a few surrogate friends that matched so quickly with a couple that didn’t even want to meet other surrogates, you know, that woman was the first target they met. They’re like, when can we get started and just, they didn’t even really even ask her anything. And for example, one of my friends, she has two kids, one of the kids requires a lot of attention, like has medical needs. And the mom is I know, the intended mom is very overbearing. And my friend went in when she kind of filled out her profile, she had said, you know, I want you to be involved, but you don’t need to be at every appointment. And which, like I said, that’s the complete opposite of me. But that’s why we filled those out, because you have to be honest, and you know, and she gets frustrated. I think that the mom does come to every single appointment and has 1000 questions and calls the doctor’s office every day, asking so many questions. And yeah, and I know my friend gets kind of overwhelmed, which she, you know, should have maybe ask them more questions too, but it’s a learning experience and their babies real healthy and I’m so excited. She’s almost due so I was like you’re almost done, you know, and the baby’s healthy. You’ve done what you what you need to do. But I feel like be honest. Don’t just match with the first person just because you’re excited because it, I mean, it is exciting and scary and so many emotions that I’m sure you go through- same with a surrogate, but you definitely want a good match or it can make or break the journey. I feel like and it’s such a special thing that like, don’t you want it to be the best it can be and not, you know, rushed or not have a surrogate that believes in the same things as you or wants the same things as you?

Eloise Drane 39:41
Absolutely. What would you tell a woman who’s considering becoming a surrogate herself?

Heathyr Suhr 39:47
Do your research. Definitely do research. I don’t think you can look up too many agencies, take the time to decide. Like I said in some of those surrogate groups, and then I see comments all the time of intended parents that are like, I matched with a surrogate., and then right before she started meds she’s like, I don’t think I want to be a surrogate anymore. Which is, that’s crazy to me. Why would you do that to the parents and waste their time? That’s horrible. But it’s such a big decision. When I’ve had people say, Oh, my gosh, that’s great money. And I’m like, it is life-changing money, it is a lot of money. But if you’re doing it for that, then don’t do it. Because it’s, it’s not. I don’t want to say it’s not worth that. But like, from what I went through last time, I was definitely not just doing it for the money, I didn’t even care if they ever gave me another payment, I just wanted them to want to help the baby. So much you go through, like I said, I’ve been sick for so long, which is nobody’s fault. You don’t know what will happen with each pregnancy. But I mean, I’ve missed so many of my daughter’s cheer practices, I’ve missed so much work. Not that that’s anybody’s fault, but it’s life-changing. It’s- you plan your life around it, you know. So it’s a very big decision, I think that you need to make sure you have the support of your significant other or your family or friends. I would, you know, make sure your kids are on board with it if they can understand. Because I feel like some kids, I feel like some of the surrogates don’t tell their kids and some of the groups I’ve said they’re like, Oh, my, you know, my daughter doesn’t know. And I don’t know when to tell her the baby’s due in a few months. I was like, What did they think this whole time? You know? And like I said, honesty is just the best. Just be upfront, make sure you have support, just things like that. Yes. And do your due diligence. Your due diligence is going to be like, so important. My last question would be what, if anything, do you think needs to change within the fertility industry to make the experience better for surrogates? like with agencies, or just in general? Both? So like I said, I’m sure no agency is perfect. And I’m sure it’s learning for everybody involved, no matter what role you play in an agency or, you know, things like that. But I feel like just to be supportive, and understanding, and patient, because everyone’s going to go through somewhat of a different experience. No journey, I’m sure is. the same, I have so many surrogate friends, luckily, that I’ve met through all of this, just through the different agencies, some do it independent, so many friends that I’m so thankful I’ve met, and nobody had a journey like mine, nobody’s had the same journey. I’ve heard so many different stories, not bad, but just in general, just so many different stories. And I feel like just support. If an agency can’t support you, and they’re only like, just for the intended parents. Like I honestly feel the last agency was, I don’t know, I just feel like that’s so awful. And, you know, put yourself in their shoes, wouldn’t you want the support? And don’t you want to be for that person? And, you know, I don’t think it would ever be bad to be known as an agency who gives extra support to parents or surrogates or, you know, just I don’t know. Yep, yeah, absolutely. And it is so true. I mean, unfortunately, there’s- on all sides, there’s bad actors on all sides. And this, you know, then the other flip side, and there’s great people, that surrogates, and parents, and agencies, and fertility clinics, and all of the things and you know, and you can’t- even if you did your due diligence, and you know, you did everything you were supposed to and checked all the boxes, something could still go wrong, there’s still no promise that it’s going to be 100%. But at least in the beginning, if you can eliminate, you know, any potential risks that you can foresee that would be way better than going into it blindly.

Eloise Drane 41:45

Heathyr Suhr 43:39
Yes. And one thing I just thought of one thing that really upset me with the last agency is, well, when I had that match manager for like two months, she only worked 9-5. So if I was to email her after hours, if something was wrong, I was not getting a response, at least until the next afternoon. So more just like a business. Your guys’ agency is just amazing, Jesse has been amazing. No matter what time I call her with any problem, I was like, “Can I schedule an appointment?” she’s like, “Just call me right now or I’m going to call you” like. But I just thought of something. And I didn’t Well, you know, and I was like, you’re just like, “You can call me back tomorrow morning” she’s like, “No, I’m calling you right now. This is not a 9-5 job.” And I was I thought like, wow, like the way she said that? I was like, That’s literally what the last agents, you know, she would say “Sorry, it’s 4:50, I have to call you back tomorrow.” If I had an issue or anything like, with a bill, I got an urgency, anything. And so I will say for surrogates, well even intended parents, when you’re talking to an agency doing research, I would find that out because I thought that was normal. I was like, oh, it’s a business, they’re open 9-5, that does make sense I don’t want to bother them. And now I just felt I feel so silly that I just thought that was okay because it’s really not and with pregnancy, the problems aren’t only 9-5, you know, they can happen at any time. So I was like wow, you’re right, it’s not a 9-5 I still feel rude about it, she’s like, “Do not feel bad, that’s what I’m here for! I’m for your support.” and just that’s awesome. So amazing to me.

Eloise Drane 45:02
Yes. And I obviously agree with Jesse, I definitely don’t feel like this- what we do is a 9-5, there’s no such thing as 9-5. Because you know, a baby’s not 9-5, and this whole process and everything, anything can go wrong at any time, any day, any week. It doesn’t matter. And, you know, if you’re in the middle of a crisis, the last thing you want somebody like, Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll call you back. Oh, no, sorry, I can’t call you on Friday, or I can’t call you today, because tomorrow is Saturday. So I’ll get back with you on Monday. Like, yeah, I got it here.

Heathyr Suhr 45:43
Yeah. So that was very eye-opening. Like when she said that, like I said, something just clicked. And I was like, wow, you’re right, that is how it should work. Because it’s not just a business. I mean, it is a business. But that’s not- I just know that you guys are so much more caring. And like I said, I just wish, I don’t have regrets. But if I could go back, I guess I wouldn’t change it. But if I could tell someone to go, I’d like go over there because they are awesome. They I feel like I’m supported, no matter what time it is. And that is just you don’t realize how nice that is until something happens. And you’re like, oh, you know, I have no one to talk to now because they’re closed right now. Right?

Eloise Drane 46:16
Yes. Yeah. No, we definitely don’t want that. Well, Heather, I am so grateful that you were willing to share your story. And you know, for being on the show with me today. Is there any last words you’d like to share with our guests?

Heathyr Suhr 46:30
No, I mean, thank you for listening to my story. I’m so excited that I could share it. Like I said, until something I feel like goes wrong, or you’ve heard of someone else having something go wrong, you don’t know what questions to ask, you don’t know, to research thing. Not that anyone has to be like, never work with that agency again but just be informed. Just do your research, do your job, you know, to protect yourself, to protect your family, your feelings, your mental health. And just, you know, if you’re looking for surrogacy options, if you’re an intended parent or being a surrogate, I suggest do your research and don’t settle, don’t rush it, because it can take a very long time. But you know, it’s so exciting. It’s amazing. Like I said, when I saw those parents with their baby, it was just amazing. And I couldn’t have been happier, I kind of forgot the whole, everything that had happened because I was just so happy that he was loved, taken care of, and healthy. So I’m so excited that I could share my story with you, and thank you so much for asking me to be on here. I’m so excited.

Eloise Drane 47:30
Awesome. Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.

Heathyr Suhr 47:33
Yes, of course.

Eloise Drane 47:38
Thank you so much for listening. If you found this episode helpful, please rate Fertility Cafe on your favorite listening platform, and share this episode with anyone you think could benefit from hearing it. Thank you so much for joining me today. Until next time. Remember, love has no limits, neither should parenthood.