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Episode 86 Transcript

Ep 86 Transcript | Importance of Commitment as a Surrogate or Egg Donor


Welcome to Fertility Cafe, the home for every conversation exploring alternative family building through IVF, surrogacy, egg, sperm, and embryo donation. Our host Eloise Drane alternates episodes between educational shows, covering specific topics and guest narratives for further insight. For a mastery understanding and confidence in all things, alternative family, subscribe to Fertility Cafe.

Eloise Drane 00:28

Hey there, welcome to Episode 86 of Fertility Cafe. I’m your host, Eloise Drane.

Becoming a surrogate or egg donor is no small undertaking. It requires an undeniable level of dedication and responsibility. Enabling a person or couple to create a family is an incredibly selfless act involving not just one person but multiple people. So, it’s important to understand how central and valued you are in this entire process.

In today’s episode, I’d like to talk about the importance of commitment for both egg donors and surrogates. Your part in the third-party reproduction process is vital. So, it’s critical that you enter this important role enthusiastically and remain committed to staying the course.

Partnering with the reputable agency is the first step to make sure you remain committed. No matter which you choose to work with. It’s so important to vet the agency thoroughly. You must advocate for yourself every step of the way. And this starts by doing thorough research beforehand. Ask a lot of questions to make sure all the bases are covered. understand not only your role, but the legal, physical, and emotional components involved.

Any good agency with positive reviews in a solid reputation will not oversimplify things. And fact though, everyone involved once overnight results. You have to understand going in this that this is often a hurry up and wait game. I wish it wasn’t, but it is. I can speak to this because I have done both journeys, as you may know if you’ve checked out past episodes of the show. There are starts and stops and times when you feel frustrated and stressed worrying about disappointing the intended parents who are hanging their hopes and dreams on your contribution. It’s a lot.

So, let’s get into it. In this show, I’ll be discussing what it takes to become a successful surrogate or egg donor, the importance of commitment and dedication and how to maintain it throughout the entire process.

To start with, let’s talk about the different kinds of commitment required.

The first one is accountability. Once you’re fully educated, and you’ve asked all the questions, your agency will work closely with you regarding the process and what will be required of you. You must be committed to each step from the first appointment to the last and then remain reachable and accountable, always.

If you’re an egg donor, it’s important to remain accountable by following the direction provided so that the entire process goes smoothly. During the donor screening process, answer questions about your medical history and lifestyle activities truthfully. This will enable the agency to evaluate your eligibility and arrange for the optimal care necessary for the procedure.

Once approved, it’s important to adhere strictly to the medication and appointment schedule, following doctor’s instructions exactly and of course, be punctual. You need to prioritize the egg donor process and arrange for adequate transportation to and from every appointment.

Following these guidelines and remaining accountable for what’s required of you will help doctors get the best results while ensuring your safety throughout the process.

For surrogates, there are many layers of accountability. You will be required to submit to an extensive medical and psychological screening to ensure that you are healthy and emotionally stable. From the beginning of the surrogate journey, you should remain accountable by attending doctor’s appointments as scheduled, and prioritize check-ins.

Apart from accountability, it’s also important to commit the time required of your role in the family-building journey. The fertility clinic will very clearly map out the timeline of events, and you should be fully committed to that timeline.

For egg donors, the time commitment is generally 120 days from when you’re matched. You’ll be required to attend a total of 7 to 10 morning appointments at the clinic for ultrasound monitoring and blood work over a few weeks. The egg retrieval procedure itself doesn’t take long but you’ll be at the clinic for a few hours for prep and recovery. In most cases, you should be able to continue with your everyday activities such as work or school during the overall process. However, you will be required to take one or two days off for the scheduled procedure.

For surrogates, the time commitment is much more involved. From screening to delivery, you’ll be looking at anywhere from 15 to 18 months as a surrogate. Your contract will state your obligation in terms of how many cycles you’re committed to. Remember, each unsuccessful embryo transfer will extend the time of your surrogacy.

When it comes to physical commitment, obviously this is a huge component of the egg donor and surrogacy journey. The physical commitment of being an egg donor is less intense, but you should be aware of what to expect.

The injections needed for the egg donation process are self-administered, you can administer them yourself or have someone help you. The fertility clinic will provide instruction on how to administer the medications.

As with any medical procedure, there are always possible side effects and risks associated with egg donation. Some women may experience little to no discomfort during the donor cycle, while others may exhibit symptoms that typically resolve after the egg retrieval procedure. Hormone medication side effects may include bloating, abdominal pain and swelling, breast tenderness and mood swings that can last until your next menstrual period. Although severe side effects are rare, you should discuss all possible risks with a doctor before deciding to be a part of any egg donor program.

Additionally, it’s critical to commit to abstaining from sexual intercourse during the donation process. Specifically, abstinence should be practiced from the time when you start the hormone medication until a few weeks after the egg retrieval procedure. This is necessary to avoid a pregnancy.

Obviously for surrogates, the physical commitment is more extensive. You are selflessly lending your body for this process, and you should be commended for helping intended parents achieve their dream of creating a family.

The first physical commitment begins with IVF. The fertility clinic will establish a protocol that prepares your body for the embryo transfer, allowing for optimum success and implantation and pregnancy.

You’ve committed to prenatal care as well as being pregnant for nine months, you should focus on eating a healthy diet. Having already had children you’ll be familiar with the experience in terms of the changes your body undergoes from inception to giving birth.

As a surrogate or egg donor, there is also a significant communication commitment required in the third-party reproduction process.

Agencies and fertility clinics often communicate via email and phone calls. Texting is also a common form of communication, in some instances. Many fertility clinics have online portals in which they upload information. It will be up to the individual donor or surrogate to check the portal regularly.

Communication as an egg donor is all about following through on everything that is medically required of you. You must be in constant communication with the agency and the fertility clinic as things can change suddenly, depending on how the cycle is going. It’s also a good idea of alerting the agency to any scheduling conflicts in advance. Like if you know you’re going to be out of town for a wedding or you have finals week, for example.

For surrogates, it’s important to communicate with your intended parents, the agency, your attorney, and the medical staff. As you are the one going through the physical process, you are the focal point for much of the needed information.

Let’s talk about some of the challenges surrogates and egg donors may face when it comes to committing to their role in third-party reproduction. I touched on some of the emotional and physical challenges you might face, as well as the time commitment involved, for which surrogates especially is significant.

Some of the commitment challenges that egg donors experience have to do with their time and the physical side effects they’re experiencing. If you can’t clear your calendar and commit to the timeline as well as the necessary medical appointments, you should probably think twice before signing on to be an egg donor.

For surrogates, there are extra layers to all of this. For example, does your family have the bandwidth to handle this? Is your spouse or partner supportive of the role you’re taking on? Are they able to fill in for times where you will be away at appointments, possibly traveling for screening or transfer? All of this needs to be discussed before you sign on.

Statistically, we know that some pregnancies will end in miscarriage. If this happens, it may bring a lot of emotions for you, not just feeling disappointment for the intended parents you are partnered with. But it can be a challenging experience for you as well, emotionally, and physically. Your body is going through significant hormone changes which impacts everything from your mood to your physical appearance.

After signing the surrogacy contract, most surrogates receive compensation for milestones such as medication start and embryo transfer in addition to a monthly allowance. If an unforeseen event such as a miscarriage or failed transfer occurs, the contract will dictate whether a retry is possible. Some surrogates are compensated for their time and effort up until the point of the event. A miscarriage or failed transfer is an emotional experience and parties may need to recover before attempting another transfer. Your surrogacy contract will determine next steps in the event of a miscarriage or field transfer, so always refer to the contract.

Of course, the effects of a lack of commitment may be devastating for intended parents.

For egg donors who miss appointments and are unreliable and unaccountable; this not only sets the intended parents timeline back, but it can affect the possibility of you becoming an egg donor in the future.

If a surrogate is stressed and hesitant to undertake the physical commitment, not to mention the commitment of communication, it’s going to lead to frustration and disappointment for all parties involved. A half-baked commitment generally leads to a lot of wasted time. And that’s not going to work for you or the intended parents.

For both egg donors and surrogates, you need to listen to your intuition. If you’re thinking about going down this road, and you have misgivings and you’re not feeling motivated, this may not be for you.

If you do go all in, there are so many amazing benefits of committing to the process, not just for the intended parents, but for you, the egg donors, and surrogates as well.

When you’re invested in the outcome, and dedicated to your role in the journey, you feel a sense of satisfaction and pride that’s hard to describe. Having been both an egg donor and a surrogate, I can tell you that helping bring new life into the world is an incredibly moving, impactful experience you will never forget, there aren’t too many roles you will fill in your lifetime that will make this much of a difference in someone else’s world.

When you’re deeply committed, it also allows you to have a stronger relationship with the intended parents you’re working with.

Another benefit of being committed as an egg donor or surrogate is your increased empathy for the struggles other people are going through. It’s a very fulfilling feeling to be able to help someone achieve a dream that has been out of reach for them. Empathy is such an important quality that not only makes you a better surrogate or egg donor, but it’s something you take forward that will enrich all of your relationships in life.

Having been involved in this process from different perspectives, it’s really given me a 3-D view of how you as a surrogate or an egg donor can make this journey successful. These are just a few tips to help you stay committed throughout the family-building process.

State of mind is the first thing that I think of. You’re doing something really amazing. Focus on how important your role is and what an incredible gift you are giving. Focusing on the goal will help you get through the rough terrain that can happen along the way. I mentioned earlier that this is a hurry up and wait game sometimes. Hang in there and take the long view when you encounter hurdles along the way, and things don’t happen as smoothly or as quickly as you had hoped.

Choosing a reputable agency is another tip to ensure that this will be a successful process. Before you decide on which agency is best for you, book an informal discussion with them and come prepared with questions. Remember that no question is too basic or obvious for someone new to family-building. There are so many aspects you need to keep on top of in a good agency will help seamlessly manage all the moving pieces. There are many to partner with you and help you stay on track.

Another tip to helping you stay in the long game is having a strong support system. Whether that’s your partner, family, friends – tell people close to you what you’re going through. Ask for what you need. Maybe that’s just a listening ear some days or an outing to just let loose and enjoy some free time distressing and good company. Whatever it is, practice self-care and community-building during this time. You can check out Facebook groups as well as local support groups in your area.

I also found when I was both an egg donor and a surrogate, that leaning into my motivation always helped me get through hard times. Remind yourself why you’re doing this. Connecting to our larger purpose is a really great way to put things in perspective and keep you feeling strong and solid throughout this entire process. Some days are going to be long; some days are going to be hard, but there will be an end in sight and it’s going to be pretty amazing accomplishment when you cross that finish line.

Once you fully commit yourself in all the ways we talked about, you’ll find that you get in a groove and you’re going to enjoy the journey a lot more. Committing yourself to a process and making good communication a habit is something that is going to benefit you in every aspect of your life.

Though some elements of a family-building journey are out of your control. Having a solid handle on whatever is within your control, so you can feel good about yourself knowing that you did everything possible to make this a successful venture. In my own experience, I can truly say that the rewards far outweigh the frustrations.

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.

Tune in next week for another amazing episode on Fertility Cafe.

Until then, remember, “love has no limits – neither should parenthood.”