An applicant’s family members are also screened to make sure they are providing assistance. Aretha Cagno said her husband and children – 12, 9, and 6-year-old twins and a baby expected next month – have been 100 percent supportive of her work as a surrogate from the start. As is common with surrogacy arrangements, her family has grown close to the man she was carrying for and the two resulting children, a 2 year old and an 11 month old. She noted that families often met in person before the pandemic.
The physical toll of surrogacy
A surrogate pregnancy presents unique challenges for women who pass this rigorous screening. Selected in part because of the relative ease of pregnancy, most have not experienced how they become pregnant using reproductive technologies. The daily hormone injections that wearers have to administer themselves in the weeks leading up to an embryo transfer often lead to side effects such as body pain, nausea and fatigue. That aspect alone should deter anyone from pursuing a replacement pregnancy “just for the money,” Ms. Cagno said. “It’s painful sometimes.”
Add to this the risks associated with pregnancy, some of which surrogate mothers may not have experienced carrying their biological children. 35-year-old Niki Renslow, who lives in Buckeye, Arizona with her husband and three children, first started thinking about surrogacy after talking to some of her gay male friends. “Many of them would say,” I want to have a family with my own blood, but I don’t know what to do, “said Ms. Renslow.” And I think, yes, wait, what are you going to do? “
Carrying and giving birth to her own children were “flawless” experiences, she said, and she suggested becoming a pregnancy carrier with her husband. “If we can help other people for whom this is not so easy, why not?” You agreed.
Her experience with surrogate pregnancies for a gay couple living in France turned out to be far more difficult – it involved two miscarriages; a subchorionic hematoma, a pregnancy complication that caused daily bleeding during her first trimester; and an emergency caesarean section to deliver premature babies at 32 weeks.
Today, Ms. Renslow works for a Maryland-based surrogacy agency that researches potential pregnancy carriers and uses her history as a precaution to ensure applicants are aware of the risks involved. Despite these complications, she tells candidates that the experience can be “magical”.
“It’s really amazing to see these parents hold this baby they’ve wanted for so long,” she said. “It’s the best day of your life.”