Surrogacy Medications and Risks

You’ve been thinking about surrogacy and making dreams come true for someone who wants to have a family. It’s great reward for all involved, so unfortunately there are also risks. Pregnancy, whether with your own baby or with a surro-baby, comes with risks: anemia, hypertension, gestational diabetes, morning sickness (hyperemesis) are just a few, according to the CDC.

Even with those risks, the reward is so great that women continue to (willingly) become pregnant with their own babies and others’ babies (thank you, surrogates!). John Quincy Adams, while likely completely ignorant of surrogacy, said the perfect words for surrogacy: “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

Now on to some of those difficulties and obstacles! First off, the kinds of medications you’ll be taking as a surrogate, preparing your body for embryo transfer and pregnancy.

Before Embryo Transfer:

  • Birth Control Pills: before transfer to regulate your cycle
  • Lupron – shot (small needle): for 3 – 4 weeks daily before transfer to suppress your cycle

Before and After Embryo Transfer: You can be taking these medications multiple times a day and more than one at a time, depending on the calendar you’re given by the fertility clinic. These medications may start 3 or 4 weeks before embryo transfer, and can continue through the first 10 – 12 weeks after transfer (and sometimes through the whole pregnancy):

  • Estriadol patches (estrogen)
  • Oral Tablets (estrogen)
  • Vaginal creams and suppositories (estrogen and progesterone)
  • Progesterone shots
  • Steroids and/or antibiotics

From start of medications through pregnancy:

  • Aspirin
  • CoQ10
  • Range of prenatal, DHA, and folic acid

The medications can cause reactions. These reactions are mostly just an inconvenience, but can be surprising for first time surrogates.

Reaction to the fertility drugs include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Low mood
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Mild bruising and soreness at injection site
  • Nausea and, occasionally, vomiting
  • Temporary allergic reactions, such as skin reddening and/or itching at the injection site
  • Fatigue

As for the pregnancy itself, a surrogacy pregnancy comes with the same risks as your own pregnancies. There are a couple of risks separate that come with the embryo transfer process, IVF produced embryos, and medication, like the following:

  • Increased incidence of multiple births
  • Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome
  • Cramping during catheter insertion for embryo transfer
  • Cysts on ovaries
  • Ectopic pregnancy

Keep in mind that every situation is different, everybody’s body responds differently, and the health of embryos and many other factors go into the success of a transfer to a gestational carrier.  These lists of medications and possible risks look scary, but the reality is that the risks are relatively low. And at the end of it? A beautiful baby for a family who has been hoping and dreaming of that little bundle, and you get front row seats and feels!

Ask Jennifer! 3 New Answers from Last Week!

Check out the latest from Ask Jennifer!

You asked:

What's going on in New Mexico?

Our answer:


You asked:

Is the surrogate the biological mother of the child?

Our answer:


You asked:

Will surrogates be able to find coverage under the Affordable Care Act?

Our answer:

Submit your surrogacy-related question here!

See you soon!

-Jennifer

Two Sassy Sisters Start a Surrogacy Agency in Colorado

J and LN 1979.jpg

When people first discover that Ellen and I are sisters the reaction is always strong and almost always the same.

There are a few awkward moments of looking back and forth between us to determine if they *truly* believe us.  The next statement is usually their decision as to whether they think we look alike (we’re sisters, not twins!).  The final statement is frequently: “That’s amazing.  I could *never* work with my sister.”


40563_1449809819356_3968310_n.jpg

It is amazing. But I also love working with my sister and can’t imagine doing this with anyone else.

There is no one in this world that I have permission to give a hard time to more than her (and the reverse is true!) and there is no one I trust more deeply to have my back when things get tough.  Do we agree on everything at every moment?  No. Does anyone?  But we have many years of practice finding middle ground with each other and have perfected the fine art of negotiating.  Although, I will note that Ellen’s 3-year old version of negotiation involved writing her name in permanent marker on my toys and telling me they were hers because they had her name on them.  I’m sure that was payback for me telling our parents to take her back and return her when they brought her home from the hospital.  In present times, she is my biggest cheerleader and supporter, and I am hers.  I know that she’ll forgive me for any transgression I make and she knows that I will always give her my dessert. 

Our family life has grown and adapted over the years, making us both truly understand that family is who you choose to love and let into your life.  We have parents that have divorced and remarried, bringing other siblings and new parents into our lives that we love deeply and could not imagine life without.  One of us has a tiny nuclear family that was achieved through years of infertility, the other has a large (and LOUD) family.  Both are equally filled with love.


J and LN with dad.jpg

On the professional spectrum we are equally opposite.

Ellen is outgoing, compassionate, and wildly smart.  I am introverted, organized, and detail oriented.  The great thing about that is that we complement each other and are able to fill in the gaps for each other.  Ellen is ready to race out the door to meet the next new person and I’m holding her car keys and a folder of information at the ready for her.


J and LN 1981.JPG

We both feel very strongly that everyone has the right to the family they want, and we are passionate about our surrogacy matching service as a result.

We know that no one comes to surrogacy lightly or because it is their first choice.  Most come to us because it is their last shot at achieving their dream of a family.  We work hard to make certain that a difficult burden is made all that much lighter and as easy as possible. We are grateful for Colorado’s trust in us and look forward to continuing to fulfill dreams and hold babies.


Ready to become a parent?

Ready to become a surrogate?

Surrogacy Vs. Egg Donation: How Are They Similar and How Are They Different?

Women who are passionate about helping others, or have had friends or family members who have struggled with infertility, often want to know how they can help people achieve the families of their dreams. Egg donation and gestational surrogacy are two of the ways that women can help those who aren’t able to have their own children. However, the two procedures often get confused with each other, causing misconceptions about who can do egg donation or gestational surrogacy, and what each entails. What follows is a discussion of how they are similar and how they are very different.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions about the differences between egg donation and gestational surrogacy, and even more questions about what the requirements and procedures are for both. We love answering these questions because education is key for both the donor or surrogate and for the intended “recipient”/parent(s). Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions:

Q: Do they harvest your eggs at the same time they do the transfer?

A: Not even possible. With egg donation you are given hormones to promote the production of eggs. With surrogacy you are given hormones that suppress egg production and ovulation. Furthermore, it is rare (and ill-advised) for a surrogate to use her own eggs, unless she is related to one of the intended parents.

Q: You have to be YOUNG to be a surrogate, right? Like under 28?

A: Unlike donating eggs, gestational carriers can be older than 28 or 30, even up to low 40s in some cases. Most egg donation agencies prefer you to be under the age of 28-30 because egg quality is known to deteriorate after your 20s. Your uterus can be giving the gift of life for much longer than your ovaries!

Q: My friend was a surrogate in college because it was the best way for her to earn some quick money!

A: While it is possible that your friend was a surrogate in college, it would be less likely, because she would have needed to be a mother already. It’s much more likely that she was an egg donor, and it wasn’t “quick” money – it takes a real time commitment (not to mention the physical commitment) to be an egg donor.

Here are some other key facts that you may not have had at your fingertips about the differences between being an egg donor and being a gestational carrier.

Egg donation is:

  • Often anonymous (the donor doesn’t know the identity of the recipients and vice versa)
  • Completely possible even if you haven’t had your own children
  • Usually a 6-month commitment
  • Your genetic material (your eggs!)
  • Usually for women between 21 and 30
  • Compensated at around $5,000 – $7,000
  • For single recipients, for same sex couple recipients, or for a recipient who is able to carry her own child, but doesn’t have any viable eggs, so uses an egg donor but not a surrogate

Being a gestational carrier is:

  • Being matched with known intended parents through an agency or through self-matching
  • Having had your own children that you gave birth to as a requirement
  • At least a 9-month commitment (after adding in matching, legal, and preparation for embryo transfer, more like 12 months – 18 months
  • In no way being genetically related to the embryo (except for in very particular cases)
  • For surrogates aged 21 to 40
  • Compensated usually between $20,000 and $45,000
  •  For intended parents who are not able to be pregnant with their own babies

Egg donors and surrogates do have sometimes have similarities as well, like having regular menstrual cycles, being physically and emotionally healthy, being non-smokers, not using prescription or recreational drugs, and willing to make a big commitment to helping someone else with the greatest gift – the chance at their own baby! If you have more questions, or are ready to learn more about becoming a surrogate, please contact us!

Ask Jennifer! What kind of things could slow down the match process from the GC’s side?

Check out the latest from Ask Jennifer!

You asked:

Ask Jennifer! What kind of things could slow down the match process from the GC’s side?

Our answer:

Submit your surrogacy-related question here! Or visit our new sister website here!

See you soon!

-Jennifer

5 Common Questions About Surrogacy from Gay Couple Intended Parents

You’ve found the love of your life, and everything’s in the right place to become parents! You and your partner have been discussing starting a family through surrogacy, but as a gay couple, you have some specific questions about surrogacy and gay parenting. Here are 5 common questions about surrogacy from gay intended parents:

1. Does it matter what state we are in? Does it matter what state our surrogate is in?

First off, when considering surrogacy, always consult an attorney knowledgeable in surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology law. An attorney can guide you through the laws and procedures to become parents in your state and the state where your surrogate lives. There are some states where surrogacy is prohibited, and some states where there are friendly laws or courts (hello, Colorado!). The short answer? Yes, it matters where your surrogate gives birth, for sure.

2. What if my surrogate (or her family) ends up not being gay friendly?

The best way to avoid a situation in which you are not being respected as gay parents by your surrogate or her family is to thoroughly vet your surrogate first. If you are using an agency, the agency will have likely already screened for this (but it doesn’t hurt to ask to make sure!). If you are self-matching, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions of your surrogate. And, just in case, always have a gestational carrier agreement that has been negotiated by your lawyer and the surrogate’s lawyer to ensure that you (and your surrogate) are protected.

3. Which parent, if either, will be the biological parent?

With surrogacy, you and/or your partner have the chance to be genetically related to your child. Think about if it is important to you to be genetically related, and think about if it matters if one of you is genetically related while the other is not. Some couples decide that genetic relation is not important and use donated embryos (or donated eggs and sperm). Some gay male couples ask their fertility clinic to mix sperm samples so that genetic relationship could be with either father. Some couples use one partner’s egg or sperm for one embryo and the other partner’s egg or sperm for a second embryo, and choose to transfer two embryos at the same time or do sibling journeys with the two embryos. You have options!

4. Should we have twins or triplets? Or stick with a singleton pregnancy?

Surrogacy is expensive and to couples who know they want more than one child, the idea of twins can be very attractive. Reproductive endocrinologists (REs) recommend that only one embryo be transferred at a time, because singleton pregnancies tend to be the healthiest for the baby and for the surrogate. Twin pregnancies and deliveries are also more expensive in terms of healthcare costs than singleton pregnancies and deliveries. However, many REs will work with couples who are looking to have twins, so be sure to talk it over with your doctor!

5. Will both of our names be on the birth certificate?

If your surrogate gives birth to your baby in a state that is surrogacy friendly yes, absolutely, both your names will be on the birth certificate! In surrogacy friendly states, a pre-birth order (PBO) will be filed on your behalf by your attorney, and will make you and your partner the parents who will be listed on the birth certificate. Be sure you consult an attorney about the rules about PBOs in your state.

Best wishes to you on your journey to parenthood! If you have questions about the surrogacy process or about the laws regarding surrogacy in your state, you can reach out to us at

Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

Ask Jennifer! As a surrogate, how can I involve my IPs to make sure they feel close to the pregnancy?

Check out the latest from Ask Jennifer!

You asked:

As a surrogate, how can I involve my IPs to make sure they feel close to the pregnancy?

Our answer:

Submit your surrogacy-related question here! Or visit our new sister website here!

See you soon!

-Jennifer

Intended Parents: Lemon or Hedgehog (or How Big Is Your Baby)?

By Suzie White

Back in the day, you had to wait with excitement for your next OB appointment or read your secondhand copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting to check on your baby’s development.  Now, thanks to technology, we have a variety of choices when it comes to tracking baby-to-be.  While this may be information overload for some, week by week pregnancy updates are all the rage.

As intended parents, you want to be in the loop on your baby’s developmental milestones. Why not follow the pregnancy with fun size comparisons? How about an artichoke, or is a slow loris more your speed? The following apps and sites are a great way to do that. You can also read about symptoms your surrogate may be experiencing at the time and tests you may expect. Some have tools for new parents too, such as vaccination information, feeding, sleep and diaper change trackers. Here are a few notes on some of our favs:

Ovia

Now this one is cool. Ovia is very user friendly, and has the adorable feature of showing the actual size of the baby’s hand and foot on the screen in the color you choose. There is a list of foods to that are safe to eat during pregnancy, as well as an anonymous community where expectant parents can connect with others. You get to choose from four entertaining themes for size comparison: fruits and vegetables; Parisian bakery; fun and games; weird-but-cute animals. Ovia gives brief daily updates moms or dads can look forward to. There is also a cool parenting app that allows parents to track milestones, and share photos and video with friends/family.

The Bump

This app is great. It provides a 3D image, so you can see baby from every angle. There are real life size comparisons, and a helpful checklist every week for parents (when to start thinking about child care, picking a pediatrician). The Bump shows tracking for twins as well. Included in the app are milestones and development after birth and beyond.

BabyCenter.com

A useful website packed full of tools like the baby names finder and child growth calculator. It provides a detailed image of baby every week, and compares to fruit and veggies.  BabyCenter also provides tracking info for twins. There is information on development of babies to big kids.

BabySizer.com

This is fun for a quick and easy click. Want to know when your baby is the size of a poker chip or a Star Wars action figure? This is the place for you! You choose from 4 themes to describe the size of baby: Cravings, Facts, Geeky, or Manly.

Keeping track of your baby’s size is a great way to start bonding with your little one (and with your surrogate). We’d love to hear about your favorite baby size comparisons, or any sites or apps you love for tracking the pregnancy! Email us at info@coloradosurro.com

 

Acupuncture for Surrogates

Originally a Chinese practice, acupuncture has been around for at least 2,500 years.  Acupuncture is used for balancing the energy within one’s body, and for overall general health, focusing on preventing and treating sickness or disease. And, yes, there are needles, VERY small, thin needles, put into specific spots on the body connected with meridians (or pathways) within the body.

So what does that have to do with surrogacy? As with anything during the surrogate’s journey, nothing is guaranteed to work, but here are a few sources that encourage acupuncture in order to help with pregnancy, infertility, surrogacy – all things to help make that baby!

First of all, my own, personal testimonial:

I started using acupuncture when trying to get pregnant with my first child, and it worked! We really hadn’t tried for that long, but I was impatient and wanted to do all I could to help get my body ready and move things along.  I used it during pregnancy to deal with any discomforts, and it helped. I enjoy acupuncture pregnancy or not, so I used it through my second pregnancy. Therefore, as a surrogate it only made sense to me. I did acupuncture as I started meds, a day before transfer (had to travel for transfer so couldn’t do day of), when I came home after transfer and throughout the pregnancy. I even used acupuncture after the baby was born to help flush out hormones and regulate my body.  I would recommend trying it in general especially for surrogacy, as long as your doctor agrees.

The American Pregnancy Association, a national health organization that works for pregnancy wellness, has this to say about acupuncture and pregnancy:

“. . . an individual could still benefit from acupuncture and herbs because of the potential effect of improved ovarian and follicular function. Additionally, acupuncture can increase blood flow to the endometrium, helping to facilitate a thick, rich lining.”

Many fertility clinics also encourage the use of acupuncture for embryo transfer and other times of pregnancy. The University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine clinic in their handout titled "Recommended Treatment of Acupuncture for Fertility calls for acupuncture to “promote implantation and prevent miscarriage” and for embryo transfer day to “calm the mind and relax the uterus, relieve discomfort while at the same time supporting implantation.”

These are just a few resources, so talk to your RE and do what works for you.  Depending on the clinic that your IP(s) use, they may have an acupuncturist on staff and have a schedule they like using for surrogacy.  You can also use www.nccaom.org (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) to find a certified provider in your area. 

Ask Jennifer! What are some of the most common concerns gestational carriers have during surrogacy?

Check out the latest from Ask Jennifer!

You asked:

What are some of the most common concerns gestational carriers have during surrogacy?

Our answer:

Submit your surrogacy-related question here! Or visit our new sister website here!

See you soon!

-Jennifer