Surrogacy, whats it all about?

My job as a newborn and family photographer means I meet hundreds of new parents every year in my Poole studio. During the past 10 years, I’ve met parents from all walks of life. No matter what their nationality, beliefs or sexuality is they love their babies unconditionally. As every parent across the globe does.

I’ve been lucky enough to share the joy of well over a thousand couples in being new parents. I’ve heard countless birth stories and their journeys to becoming parents. My own pregnancies were “easy”. I have two amazing kids that are growing into lovely young adults. I couldn’t imagine not being able to share my life with my offspring.

As it’s National Surrogacy week I thought it would be amazing to share one couple’s very personal and emotional account. I learnt of their Surrogacy story whilst photographing their newborn baby girl.

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Lisa and Sunny’s story

“The statistics show that 1:4 women experience a miscarriage at some point in their life and 1:100 will experience recurrent miscarriages. It says women but I think it’s important to highlight that men are also impacted by this. For every woman suffering, in many cases, there will be a man struggling as well. So it impacts everyone, your friends, family and colleagues. Whether we realise it or not someone in your world will have dealt with the devastating impact of losing a baby through miscarriage.

There will be no two experiences the same, everyone will deal with their journey differently. Only since my beautiful two-year-old daughter was born, do I feel comfortable to talk about my experience. In the 5 years before Lara was born we experienced multiple miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy. Had several rounds of IVF, a couple of misdiagnoses, numerous invasive tests, operations, blood tests and more needles and drugs than I care to mention. The physical, emotional, mental and financial strain of infertility is immense and has a significant impact on your life.

Many people would like to share their journey with others but feel unable to. The stigma that surrounds miscarriage, loss of a baby, infertility feels very real. You battle with yourself daily. It becomes all-consuming and dominates your thoughts and feelings. The emotions I have dealt with include shame, anger, embarrassment, loss, jealousy, desperation, love and hope. It is a roller-coaster of emotions, highs and lows. On more than one occasion I considered living a child-free life, I had a career I loved, a loving relationship, good friends and family but every time I considered it my heart dropped and my future looked dark.

During this time we tried everything. From holistic therapy (acupuncture, reflexology, detox retreats) to visiting top London fertility clinics. Finally, in 2015 I was diagnosed with several blood conditions that meant my body views my babies as intruders and rather than nurturing them, attacks resulting in a miscarriage. After being told numerous times by Fertility Consultants that our embryos are ‘perfect’ I was determined not to give up and after my last loss in March 2016, I decided to research Gestational Surrogacy (where a woman often called a host, carries our embryo for us). And this is where our story takes a positive turn; we met Rachel and her family in April 2016 in a Facebook Surrogacy group and have become firm friends ever since.

New baby girl

The next part of my story is the reason I’m able to talk about my experience now. Our beautiful baby girl was born in November 2017. The day Lara was born, so was I. It felt like a fog lifted, I had found my purpose, my missing piece, it was like that dark future disappeared and everything became clear.

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Hope

Surrogacy is often a misunderstood topic. Where people think the Surrogate is a victim or being taken advantage of. Here in the UK that couldn’t be further from the truth (there are always the exceptions). These women are strong, focused and determined. They have come to the surrogacy world for a variety of reasons but ultimately, they want to help someone have the family they dreamed of. In the UK its altruistic so only expenses connected to the pregnancy can be paid, they do not gain financially for giving this incredible gift.

Although our surrogacy journey was straight forward compared to other journeys, it was still an emotional rollercoaster. We were successful with Lara on our second IVF attempt, so we still had to deal with the heartache of a failed transfer which we found out about the day before my 38th birthday. Even with Surrogacy, there is no guarantee you’ll have a family at the end of your journey. Watching Lara now though it was worth every tear, every moment of heartbreak, every penny and I’d do it all over again to be where we are now.

Looking back on my journey, we’ve been taken emotionally, physically and mentally to some dark places. The surrogacy community and the Surrogates that are prepared to help people like us brought hope when we thought there was none. They don’t only change lives but help create them, helping people start and complete their families. They’re some of the strongest people I’ve ever met.  I’m blessed to have found the community and made some amazing friends, both Surrogates and other Intended Parents (IPs).

I’m always here to answer questions or offer support so please feel free to get in touch if you’re in the middle of that fog or just would like to know more. Wishing anyone who is in that dark place the strength and determination to continue their journey, whether you reach your dream through your own pregnancy, adoption or surrogacy – hold on, it’s definitely worth it!”

Lisa x

Best Family photographer