Hey there! Welcome back to Fertility Cafe. I’m your host, Eloise Drane. Welcome to Episode 80 of Fertility Cafe. In this episode, we get to hear from an Intended Parent via surrogacy and what the experience was like from her perspective. Most people choose surrogacy as a way to start or add to their family. The first successful gestational surrogacy took place in 1985, in which a gestational surrogate carried a child genetically unrelated to her on behalf of the Intended Parents. Over time, surrogacy laws have evolved to embrace the family building practice for hopeful parents nationwide. On with me today is Amy Oguntala, an intended parent of three boys via gestational surrogacy. Amy, welcome, and thank you so much for being here.
Amy Oguntala 00:55
Thank you for having me. I’m excited.
Eloise Drane 00:58
So, would you mind sharing your story and just kind of how you even got to surrogacy?
Amy Oguntala 01:05
You know, I have a little bit of a different story for most people, really, because I wasn’t really even sure that I wanted children. I was focused on career, I’d spent the bulk of my 20s and my 30s, you know, focused on professional development, focused on what I want to do with my life, what I want to do with my career, and I got married later in life, so the conversation around children was just not something I had to confront or deal with in my 20s, or certainly in my early 30s. And so I’ll tell you the story. Interestingly enough, I took up running, which I always joke that if I just sat on the couch and eat cheesecake, I’d be totally fine. But I took up running and I got up to six miles a day, which I was incredibly proud of. And one day I hurt my hip. And I ended up spending maybe a few months trying to nurse it back until finally, I went to the orthopedist. And they said, why don’t we do an MRI and see what’s going on with your hip. So just to give a timeline at this point, I’m about 38 years old. So I’m 38, I’m newly married, by the way. And I go for the MRI for my hip and the MRI results come back and they say there is an almost grapefruit sized tumor in your uterus that you may want to have addressed. And so all of a sudden I find myself confronted with having to deal with something that wasn’t even on radar. I go to specialists, I go to check it out. And it turns out I have fibroids.
Eloise Drane 02:43
So, wait. So you, obviously, you were going to doctors offices for your annual physicals and all of that. And nobody noticed that you had this massive fibroid?
Amy Oguntala 02:55
Not at all. Not at all. And I was on top of my appointments, I went annually. I was very diligent about it. And I didn’t feel any differently, really.
Eloise Drane 03:07
But with fibroids, though, they say, you know, for a lot of women that have fibroids who get extremely heavy periods you get…
Amy Oguntala 03:15
I’ve always had heavy periods, I’ve always had have.
Eloise Drane 03:17
So it wasn’t really an indication for you to-
Amy Oguntala 03:19
Absolutely not, as a matter of fact, I don’t know that I could have even told you that I had heavy periods because to me, it felt very normal. That was just what life was like. I’ve had heavy periods as a teenager. And it’s just to me, I thought that’s what everyone went through, right? How bizarre, how bizarre. So I find myself in a situation where I go to have the fibroid addressed. And my gynecologist tells me “Well, you’re going to have to have a hysterectomy.” And I think, well, I know what that is- that’s removal of the uterus, but wait a minute. So, we do that, that means I can’t ever have children. And what’s interesting is at that point in my career, and at that point in my relationship and my marriage, I really, in my head, of course looking back on it sounds so crazy. But in my head, I thought, Oh, I always have the option to have kids. I’m 38. You know, women have children at 45 and 46 and 49. You see them, you know they’re on the news, the celebrities, you see them. I have time to think about it. So it wasn’t even on radar as a real point that I needed to tackle in that moment. And so when my gynecologist said we’re going to have to have a hysterectomy and I realized at that point, wait a minute, the decision is now being made for me. And I’ve come to the end of my road and all of a sudden I don’t know that I want to be here. I don’t know that I’m okay with this. And so that really began the start of circling around and looking for specialists and looking for someone who could really save my uterus that was really the thinking, can we go in, because it was a rather large fibroid? Can we go in, we take the fibroid out, save the uterus with the goal of me, essentially retaining my choice to have children in the future. And that’s sort of where I was thinking at that point, I was able to find someone who did a robotic myomectomy, which was going in removing the fibroid robotically, and still saving the uterus. I went through that process and thought, “Okay, great!” right? I went through the surgery, the surgery went off without a hitch. I went home, and maybe about a week, 10 days later, or so I had the follow up with a doctor, with a specialist. And I go in, and I’ll never forget it, I sit across the desk, and he pulls up this picture. And if you’ve never seen a picture of your uterus or post surgery, it looks like nothing. You have no idea what you’re looking at, you know, the doctors, they know what they’re looking at, and they’re pointing at these different areas. And then he tells me, you have severe endometriosis. Okay, got it. That’s hence the heavy periods, hence the pain- painful periods.
Eloise Drane 03:45
And nobody again, all this time that you’re going to the doctors every here ever diagnosed you with endometriosis?
Amy Oguntala 05:59
Not ever, not once. Did not come up at all.
Eloise Drane 06:32
Did you share the like the your symptoms and experiences that you were having every time you got your period? Well, remember, part of the challenge for me was I don’t know that I knew there was anything untoward or different from my experience compared to other women. So I knew I had heavy periods. It wasn’t something that came up really beyond that. And that was it. And we never really unpacked. We never unpacked beyond that. So he shares “Hey, you have severe endometriosis, it’s actually gone.” It was so bad that they had to surgically separate my colon from, I can’t remember at this point, some other organ internally. I mean, it was pretty involved. So he was still able to save my uterus but he said you have- because of the endometriosis and how far it’s really gone, how involved it is, and you have severe Adenomyosis, which at that point, I’m thinking that sounds like a really fancy word. What does that mean? And he explains to me that implantation is going to be difficult. And even if I get to a point where implantation happens, the chances that I’m going to be able to carry a child, a baby to term is really going to be challenging, it’s going to be very, very difficult to do so. And so, you know, he leaves me with this news. And of course, it’s extremely deflating, because I think I’ve gone through all this to try to save this ability to have children. And essentially, here’s the specialist that I’ve gone to telling me, it’s not going to happen. And I went home and I cried, I cried. And I don’t know that I can tell you that I knew I wanted children until that point, until the point that I realized that it was not going to happen. And all of a sudden, I started doing the mathematics. And all of a sudden, I was confronted with facts that really I should have been paying attention to all along about, well, you know, if you’re over 30 years old, your eggs start to decline. And if you’re over 35 years old, it’s and we hear these things, but I think for a lot of women who may be hyper-focused on developing themselves professionally, you just don’t get you you’re not It’s not front and center, it may be in the periphery, it’s somewhere in the shadows of your mind. But it’s just not something that you are hyper-focused on, if that makes sense. So, in any case, you know, a 38, I step away, and quite frankly, I got myself into therapy. I got myself into therapy, and I think part of the conversation for me was getting comfortable with the idea of, hey, I’ve just been handed the sentence of I’m never going to have children. What does that mean for me? And, you know, do I really want children? Maybe I don’t, maybe I’m okay. And I just don’t know it. Maybe I’m just being a brat. And it’s the fact that a choice has been taken away from me. And I went through therapy really for a few years and it was just something that I just continue to grapple with. And during that time, I was told, Hey, listen, why don’t you go and actually speak to an infertility specialist. So I ended up going from the doctor who does the robotic myomectomy over to the specialists, the infertility clinic. And I said, here’s the situation, I had a robotic myomectomy. I have my uterus, but apparently it’s not worth anything. So what happens now? And you know, after going through a series of tests, it turns out that I can’t remember what tests exactly that they did., but they told me “Hey, it looks like your eggs are viable.” So you probably had AMH done.
Amy Oguntala 10:31
That sounds familiar. There you go. That’s it. But you know, again, we still have the issue of carrying implantation and the issue of carrying to term so what does that mean? And the doctor said, Well, you can consider surrogacy. And I just, I will never forget this. I will never ever forget this because I thought, you know, I don’t know anyone in my life or in my circle, who’s been through surrogacy, and I think at that point, we’re talking about five years ago now, at that point, surrogacy for me was something you saw on, you know, like the front page of the tabloids, you know, as you’re checking out through the supermarket, you see, hey, this celebrity has gone through surrogacy, it just wasn’t a real life thing. And so they mentioned it, and I said, What would I need to know to understand more, and they were actually kind enough to forward me a few contacts, some surrogacy agencies that they worked with, you know, so that I could learn more. And they gave me a quick overview, and I stepped away and said, I would think about it. So at this point, again, walking you through the timeline, I’m somewhere around 39. And of course, the big 40, hits, I turned 40. And at 40, I just had this epitome where I said, you know what, I’ve gone through a few years of therapy, this is something I want to do, I want to learn and understand more about what my possibilities really are. Because even at that point, the concept of surrogacy was more of an idea that might work not necessarily, hey, this is going to work and you’re going to have kids, it’s just, hey, if you’d like to unpack it a little bit more and delve into a little bit more, here’s an avenue where you can start having some conversations, and we can see where this goes. So at 40, I had some very initial conversations with surrogacy agencies, and I made the plunge the decision to actually go through IVF. And I went through two rounds of IVF, we were- given the fact that I was 40 years old, lucky enough to have one viable embryo out of the first round, and three embryos out of the second round. And I did do them back, I want to say they were almost three months apart, it was pretty back to back, pretty back to back because after the first round of IVF, I thought, okay, one embryo and I know, hey, what are the chances of the sticking, and in my head, I just remember given myself a 50-50 chance, not because anyone shared this with me, but I think the chances that if we had a good embryo, we would be able to transplant into a surrogate and have a take. I can’t remember the percentages that were given to me, but it was a little higher than that. Actually, I think it was quite a bit higher than that. And I decided in my head, it was 50-50. And one wasn’t enough. So we went quickly into a second round of IVF. And…
Eloise Drane 13:41
So, sorry, when you did your IVF- you tested your embryos Yes. Absolutely. I think at 40 years old, and you know, my husband’s a couple of years older than I am, we decided that we wanted to have the best chance to make sure this worked. And so we did go through, I think it’s PGS or PGD screening. And there was one viable embryo there. And we said, well, we want to have a good shot at this. So let’s go through a second round of IVF, which we did, and we ended up with three embryos. And for anyone who’s been through the IVF process, or understands anything about the IVF process, not exactly something you want to do over and over and over again. I mean, it’s just it’s just the it’s- so anyway, so here, here I was with four embryos, and I’m like, “Alright, now what?” “Now, where do we go?” So my husband and I, at this point, we’ve pretty much resigned ourselves to understanding that we’re not going to be able to transfer the embryos into me, because we don’t want to take the chances that you know, it doesn’t work. And so we started the conversations with surrogacy agencies, and that was one heck of an experience, let me tell you. Yes. So, let’s talk about that now. So you now have these embryos and the fertility clinic, you said gave you names of agencies. So did you just literally start going down the list and calling agencies?
Amy Oguntala 15:11
They gave us three, they gave us three names. And I think at that point, you know, the question in my head was, again, not knowing anyone who’s done surrogacy, I thought, well, obviously, the surrogates’ on drugs, they’re going to steal my baby, they want my children, they’re going to hold me, you know, the baby will be held ransom somewhere in- I don’t know, some random corner of the world, I’m never going to see them again. What if they don’t take care of themselves? I mean, there are so- the boogeyman is real with surrogacy if you’re an intended parent, and you come into the space. And it’s so bad if you don’t know anyone who’s gone through this, it is so bad. And so I, you know, I really started the process and thought, let me just learn a little bit more about what it means to be an agency, how does the agency interact with an intended parent and probably number one on my list at that point was, I was afraid of the cost, right? Because again, something only celebrities does in my head. So I’m like, well, this isn’t even feasible from a financial standpoint. And then I was afraid of the surrogates, like where do you find? Are you going on Craigslist to find the surrogates? I don’t even have Craigslist exists anymore or not? Yeah. But I’m like, where are you getting the surrogates? And why are they doing it? Why would anyone do this for someone else? That was my big question. Why, why, why, why? And maybe what I’m doing right now is I’m telling you, what a bad person I really am, right? Because I just I’m like, why would anyone do that?
Eloise Drane 16:51
No, I think what you’re actually saying is realistic to what a lot of people are, you know, experience when they first learned that, most likely, in order for them to be able to complete their family as they wanted, they have to go down the route of surrogacy. And what does that mean? Because and it’s funny that not all the intended parents have their fears. And then of course, the surrogates have their fears. Everybody is coming with the baggage of the unknown.
Amy Oguntala 17:24
Right, you basically have an anxiety party that’s unfolding. With the agency in the middle is what I’ve learned. So I did, we got three names from the fertility clinic. And then of course, me being the type- a data-driven person that I am, I went on online, and I started looking at different surrogacy agencies, and how can you rate them? And what are the ratings? Are there Google reviews? Or is there some kind of a an industry standard that actually says, hey, this surrogacy agency is better than this one. And of course, there really wasn’t much data out there. And I found three more on my own. And so we had a total of six agencies that we decided we were going to speak with, and that was interesting, that was interesting. I will share that some of the- I think a couple of the agencies that we spoke with were really headed by attorneys. And when I say attorneys, I mean attorneys who just by trade, and by sheer, you know, virtue of what they did professionally happen to be in the space, but they didn’t get the emotional piece, they didn’t really understand the drivers, you know, they didn’t understand the emotional piece, it was a very sterile sort of conversation. And it can be incredibly, almost destabilizing to get, you know, on screen or get in front of someone where you are just baring your deepest really inadequacies with someone who can’t connect with where you’re coming from at all, and doesn’t really connect with it. And they’re treating you in a very clinical and sterile and cold fashion. And so for us, and this just could be a personality thing where I was I needed someone to really just be a little warm with me. I needed a little bit of warmth.
Eloise Drane 17:24
You needed empathy.
Amy Oguntala 17:33
I did. I did. And it was very, very difficult for me to just kind of bear, like, Yeah, well, I don’t work the way every other woman is supposed to work. So here I am. You know, that part was tough. And so I think for my husband and I, when we found that we could speak to someone who, you know, is that point of contact to deal with intended parents, but we weren’t getting that the warmth or the openness and we we’re just getting a stream of facts, even though I’m quite data-driven, it was difficult, it was just difficult. And so I think those agencies, we decided weren’t going to be a fit for what it is I needed throughout the process. Because I was coming from a very, very vulnerable place. And I needed someone to understand that. And that was really, really important to me. Right. So out of the six, I think we spoke to a couple that were headed by attorneys. And we just decided that that wasn’t necessarily the best, you know, like anything else it comes down to fit. And it wasn’t, it wasn’t the right fit for us. We spoke with a few other agencies where, again, part of what I was trying to figure out is why on God’s green earth, would anyone choose to do this for someone else, you know, and some of the agencies we spoke with were very dismissive, in terms of the role of the surrogate. And I think I, even though this is this is going to be borderline cringy, I will say, one agency really just told us, oh, these girls- we’ll get you these girls, these girls, and I got off the phone, and I talked to my husband, I said, this made me feel dirty. This made me feel bad, I cannot possibly imagine just referring to a surrogate as oh, these girls. That was so bad. And so that for us, it was so important to maintain a degree of mutual respect for me, and again, this comes down to fit. And the mutual respect was a big bit. And so those agency or that particular agents, actually it was one, that kept on referring to these girls, and my husband and I both felt icky about it. And we, you know, we decided that that wasn’t going to work. And so I think we really, out of the six came down to a final two, if I remember, a final two. And the biggest piece for me was I needed someone who would share the facts, I needed someone who would do it with a little bit of warmth. And I needed someone who could share and understand not only where I was coming from as an intended parent, but tell me a little bit about a surrogate’s journey, what might lead them to making this decision? What does that side look like? What would make me a great intended parent? What would make me a bad one? What’s important? What are the priorities, just as most intended parents, I can tell you most intended parents wants a surrogate who’s going to care, who’s going to take care of the baby, who’s going to be communicative, who’s going to be open, who’s going to take care of themselves, there are also set of priorities on the surrogate side and that was important for me to understand. So that’s really the agency we ended up going with was the conversation that we had with you, which was you understood both sides, it was the only conversation I had out of the six, where I got to speak with someone who completely understood what the intended parents were grappling with, and could speak to the experience of the surrogates and could speak to what the drivers were, and could speak to it from a factual and data-driven and open place. And still with a layer of warmth and mutual respect around both roles. That was critically important to us.
Eloise Drane 23:30
So fast forward, obviously, you guys decided to work with Family Inceptions. And we presented you with profiles.
Amy Oguntala 23:41
Eloise Drane 23:43
And I know, obviously, it’s very difficult to now give you a profile and say, okay, here, would you want to work with this person that carry you know, your baby for you? And it’s like, how in the world am I supposed to know if this person is going to do a good job or not. So walk me through that experience for you when you know, we sent a profile over and it’s just like, now what?
Amy Oguntala 24:07
Well, I think the first time we were just so excited, right? And maybe at that point, I’ve gotten enough of a grounding in what the journey ought to look like, and I understood the background and the myriad of background and medical and psychological and financial and other checks that were done on the surrogate that I was less antsy around, oh my gosh, who are you putting in front of me? So I think we were just really excited to get a profile in front of us and reviewed it and looked for general fit and just decided, yes, let’s speak. Absolutely. Let’s you know, get together and speak to this person and see what that dynamic looks like. And, interestingly enough, the first person or the first couple, because it wasn’t just her. My husband and I spoke with her and her husband. We decided it wasn’t a fit for us. Because I kept on thinking, this is someone who I’m going to interact with for probably, at least about a year pretty closely. And not only that, we wanted to actually have a relationship with our surrogate beyond that. And that doesn’t mean like, you know, like you, you know, we’re so close. And it’s like, forced family fun, friend time. But it was important to me, I felt so much gratitude for someone who would be willing to do this and go through this and help make me a mom, that I couldn’t imagine just at the end of that going, Okay, well, thanks, great, this all worked out, you know. And again, personal preference, I know that there are different, you know, ways of thinking around this. So personality fit is actually really, really important. Can I interact with this individual for the next year? Can I talk to them? Can I be open? Can I be vulnerable? Can I tell them what I’m afraid of? Is it easy to speak with them? Are we aligned in terms of what we expect out of the relationship. And I probably have a weird reason for turning down the first surrogate that we talked to. And the reason was, you know, I’m very upfront, and I’m very rah, rah, pro woman, woman’s voice, and, you know, the first couple we spoke with, her husband kept interrupting and answering for her. And I realized that just from a personality standpoint, I thought, Oh, my God, I’m gonna shut this guy down. And like, you know, this guy won’t stop interrupting her, like, let her speak. And I just knew that that was eventually going to present itself as a potential problem. And I thought, you know, this is not going to work longer term, this isn’t long. And my husband knew that, which is the funny part. Because he just said, Yeah, I don’t know that this is gonna work. And they were very, very nice. But again, that was the one trigger for me was I thought, how do we engage? What is the interaction feel like? And, you know, what are some potential triggers? And I think being open and honest about that is just critical.
Eloise Drane 27:19
Yes, absolutely. I agree. So obviously, that match wasn’t successful. And then we presented a second profile to you. Correct. And she was absolutely amazing. And her husband was absolutely amazing. And we got through the initial conversation, which was virtual, and it was great. And then we decided to meet in person. And interestingly enough, she brought her mom to the meeting. So we met her husband, herself, and her mom. And mom was concerned, because mom said, I want to know, you know, I think this is a little, not necessarily something I would have done myself. And I want to know who she would want to do this for. And I want to know your story. And would you believe that today, I’m still in touch with mom. And actually, every birthday of my son, Jack, who is now going to be turning three, I send mom flowers, and I send our surrogate flowers. Oh, my God, we are in touch. And I’m just in touch with mom as I am. It was an amazing experience. It was an incredible experience. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It is just unreal. Wow! that’s awesome. I didn’t know that.
Amy Oguntala 28:15
Yeah. Wow. Mom is incredible. And it was just lovely. It was just lovely.
Eloise Drane 28:47
Now the end the pregnancy was amazing and great. And obviously, was it successful on the first attempt?
Amy Oguntala 28:55
Shockingly, yes. Because I don’t think I expected it. I expected to have, you know. We were successful, we had an embryo transfer and it took and every step of the way I still remember still giving myself the out like “Well, yeah, she’s four months pregnant, but we’ll see.” And at some point, I had to stop saying “We’ll see” because she was then six months pregnant then I thought this is happening. This is happening. Like oh, wow, I really may need to- this is actually happening and our son was born. He was born via emergency C section, he was born about three weeks early. And we were there and mom was there and her husband was there. And it was like one big- it was just unreal. It was unreal. And it was better than anything I could have ever hoped for. Really.
Eloise Drane 29:43
So you clearly had baby one. And then decided that you wanted a sibling?
Amy Oguntala 29:55
Yes, because I thought wow, we have three additional embryos and I knew- you know, my husband’s an only child and I knew- I come from a small family myself. And so I knew that we wanted to make sure if we could if we were lucky enough that our son had a sibling. And so we decided to do it again. And you know, the heartbreaking all of this for me was that our first surrogate wasn’t eligible to do it again, because she had the emergency C section and some medical issues around that, that last bit there. But we started the process all over again with another surrogate. Yeah,
Eloise Drane 30:31
And how was that experience because obviously, everybody’s different. And every single surrogacy journey, even though it is that you’ve already experienced it, it still can be very different from every single one. So was your second surrogacy journey experience different than the first? Different, absolutely different. Absolutely different now, for one, it unfolded during COVID. Yeah, which made everything weird, because we weren’t able to go to any of the doctor appointments, where before we had gone to, not all of them, but we’d gone to a good number of them. It was different in the- most embryo transfer was done via FaceTime, which was interesting, I never thought that I would be FaceTiming while the embryo transfer was happening. A lot of the doctor appointments were conducted via FaceTime because of COVID. And also from a personality standpoint, she was different. She was a little bit calmer, personality wise, she was a little bit more muted. She was very, very easy to speak with. But it was a different kind of relationship. But she was wonderful. She was wonderful. And we were, while I actually missed the birth of our first son because it was an emergency C-section and she was in a different state. And I joke that by the time we finally got to the hospital, I got handed a baby that was almost like delivered by us historic, smelled like lavender wrapped up in a wonderful blanket, it was totally different. The second time we were able to be there for the birth. And even though up until literally pulling into the parking lot in the hospital, we weren’t sure, again because of COVID that we would even be allowed upstairs into the hospital. But it all worked out. And we were there and I cut the cord. I cut the cord. Can you imagine that? It was unreal. I saw my son come out. I cut the cord. It was, I mean, just wild-so wild. Just from the perspective of a woman. You know, women just don’t have that perspective. But literally, I held her leg as the baby came out. It was just nuts. And I mean, and you know, funny enough, because when I did my first surrogacy journey, while it was twins, and Baby A came out, and mom- intended mom actually cut the cord too, cut the cord as well. Then the dad, I don’t even know where he was.
Amy Oguntala 33:09
Oh, no, mine was, so my husband was hiding behind me. And I think he said something along the lines of well, if the doctors can’t handle this, then you know, I shouldn’t be able to see, yeah, he was out. He was behind me.
Eloise Drane 33:22
Intended dad was in my case, too. He was he was in the room. I just I didn’t see him for a long time. And then so Baby A came out, mom cut the cord. And then unfortunately, Baby B flipped and I had to end up having an emergency C-section. So I had one vaginal delivery, and then within 45 minutes, within an hour. I had a C-section. So I literally delivered both ways in one sitting. I wouldn’t recommend that.
Amy Oguntala 34:00
Sounds a little rough!
Eloise Drane 34:03
So now you had a successful journey with your second one but you’re now doing?
Amy Oguntala 34:14
We did. And it is worth noting that again, I went into it thinking well, let’s see if the second transfer is successful. You know, and I went through the same, you know, our surrogate was, again, 3-4-5-6 months pregnant. And here I am still holding out, you know, trying to essentially control my own emotions around it. And we were successful, and now we have two embryos left. And so now we start the conversation around well, what does this now mean for us in terms of what to do with the other embryos and now I have, you know, two sons that are essentially 18 months apart. And my husband and I, you know, had really many, many conversations and many heart to heart around what to do and just decided we are so lucky, blessed, thankful, you know, let’s just do it. Let’s do it again. Let’s go for it. And so now we are on our third journey. And our surrogate is a little over four months pregnant.
Eloise Drane 35:17
And it’s the same surrogate a second journey.
Amy Oguntala 35:19
Same surrogate as our second journey. And, thankfully, knock on wood, to date, uneventful. Everything’s going really well. And we have one more embryo left. So let’s, let’s see, let’s see.
Eloise Drane 35:32
So now what, obviously, I think surrogacy even from the time you start even after delivery is an emotional roller coaster. So, on both sides. Yes, absolutely. So what would it- for you, after delivery, and you got to bring your baby home. You know, because a lot of people, we only really talk about the surrogacy and then you have the baby, and then we stop. We don’t really have the conversation after you bring the baby home. And it’s just like, Okay, I’m here. Now I finally got everything that I wanted as far as having a child, am I now content? Am I happy that I went through this process? Would I have changed anything or?
Amy Oguntala 36:25
So what’s interesting is I am beyond thrilled. I am beyond thrilled. I really am. But, I will share this, and I’m very open about talking about this because I think we just don’t enough. One of the things that I grappled with was, hey, our surrogate was in a different state. So I literally got to see her a handful of times during even the first journey, you know, we were able to go to some doctor appointments when we saw her, you know, I don’t know, maybe seven or so times during the entire process. And throughout the whole thing I wondered, you know, she’s- I felt like she was building a bond with the baby, she felt the baby kick, she felt the baby move, she felt, you know, I would just get, you know, I would talk to her. So I’d get updates, I’d understand what was going on, I would see her every so often. But in terms of building a bond, there’s almost a degree of removal because again, and the fact that I wasn’t even there for the birth, so I showed up again, with my nice lavender-smelling wrapped up baby in a blanket. And it was almost like someone handed a human to me, which is what happened, someone had handed me a human being and said, this human being is yours. And yeah, good luck. And so going home, when you get home, you almost- it took a little while for me to let all of my guard down. Because keep in mind, I’ve been guarded for so long, because it wasn’t just being guarded for, you know, the length of the pregnancy. I’ve been guarded for years from when I found that I couldn’t have children to when I went through the IVF process to when we found a surrogate and we went through the pregnancy. And all of a sudden now everything for years is now in front of me. It’s not a light switch. And it took me a little bit every day of getting to know this human being and connecting with this human being. And to the point that I even questioned myself day one. And I thought, you know, I’ve had my dog for nine years, and I really really love my dog and yes, I love the baby. But I felt like it should be more because I really love the dog and and it sounds like a bad person. But these are all of the emotions that are that are bubbling up within you that people don’t talk about. People don’t talk about this because you know, you’re supposed to be magically completely in love from the first instant. And I actually question how many people go through that. Really, I do.
Eloise Drane 38:13
Yeah, I definitely agree. So what would you tell someone who’s considering, you know, go into surrogacy route?
Amy Oguntala 39:09
I think you need to find humans, normal humans not the celebrities, not the female athletes. You need to find human beings that are willing to speak to you about it. I was lucky enough that I was able to connect through various networks with actual other intended parents who had gone through this process as part of my- you know, due diligence and speak with them and so I learned a little bit more and I think when you’re able to do that you make the the journeys real, it becomes real. It’s not some pie-in-the-sky story that happens on a Lifetime movie that you’re just you know, seeing. Talk to people, talk about it. Find- there are intended parents that would love to speak to you about it. I never ever turned on a conversation ever. because it was so important to me when we were going through this process to get to understand other people’s experiences and other people’s journeys, and other people’s learnings. And I would say, find people that you can talk to, that are willing to share their own experiences with you. And ask them the difficult questions. Ask them the embarrassing questions. Ask them the questions that you think you should know, you should have the answers to, ask it anyway, and talk about it. That would probably be my biggest advice.
Eloise Drane 40:30
And then last question, and I’ve been asking several people this question, What, if anything, do you think needs to change within the fertility industry to make the experience better for intended parents?
Amy Oguntala 40:44
Oh, that’s a good question. So I don’t know that I can say that this is within the fertility industry as much as I think society in general, we make infertility a dirty word. We, society collectively makes infertility a dirty word. You know, women go through miscarriages, it’s generally a quiet, dirty thing, we don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about infertility. There are so many people that go through IVF, when I started becoming very open about my own experience, both with IVF and with going through surrogacy, it’s amazing how many people I’ve met in my day to day and in my world who’s like, oh, yeah, I went through this, or my sister went through this, or my friend went through this. And so I really would encourage everyone in this space to become very open and very vocal about it. And it is not a dirty word. And I think the more we talk about it, and we shine a light on it, you know, you don’t feel like you’re alone by yourself in the, in the bowels of some dark pit when you’re going through this. And again, I don’t know who to hold responsible, but I do my share by being very, very open and approachable. And I don’t hide, I don’t hide behind this. And I know it’s very difficult for, to say this to someone while you’re going through it. But that would be my biggest advice.
Eloise Drane 40:52
Okay, actually, I do have one final question. What will you tell your boys about their stories? Every little bit of it. Every little bit of it, I would tell them that they were they were wanted more than, you know. I mean, I wanted them. I went through this. And when I say I mean, I, the collective me and my husband, right? I’d be very open about it. It was important to us that we maintain relationships with our surrogates, we share pictures, like I said, my son’s almost three years old now- my oldest, and we share pictures. We’re very open. And we start, of course at an age-appropriate level. But we start the conversation about you know, babies come from mommy’s tummies, and you know, mommy couldn’t have you in her tummy because her tummy was broken. And so, you know, and so I’m very, very open about it. And I think there’s nothing to be shameful about, or, you know, they’ll know the full story and, and I hope they will know how loved they were and how much went into bringing them into this world. Yep, absolutely. Well, thank you, Amy, for being on the show with me today. I enjoy the conversation. But I also am grateful that you were willing to just share your experience in your perspective and hopefully, you know, it will give others some kind of insight as to what they can expect going down this surrogacy journey.
Amy Oguntala 43:40
Absolutely! Anytime and thank you for having me.
Eloise Drane 43:43
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.