Would you carry a stranger’s baby? How about your sister’s? Over the last few years, surrogacy has entered our pop culture zeitgeist with celebrities using surrogates to complete their families. But surrogacy remains one of the least talked about tools in the fight against infertility. Why do surrogates do what they do? What do they get out of it? And how hard is it to give a child to its parents after having it in your womb for 9 months? On Christmas Day, here are three women’s stories about their experience with surrogacy. Happy holidays from Shared Conception!
The hardest part was shouldering the burden of infertility.” – Kymberli Barney, 33, Hinesville, Georgia, married with girl/boy twins, 10, an 8-year-old boy and a 4-year-old daughter

“My husband and I initially had trouble conceiving. Once the problem was figured out I got pregnant easily – and surrogacy was a way of paying it forward because as far as infertility we got off easy. Even as a child, I was fascinated by childbirth and thought about being an obstetrician. I always wanted to be pregnant, and it hurt when it didn’t come easily for me.

When I delivered the baby by surrogate, that was magical. But it wasn’t just one moment. There was the first time my intended mom put her hand on my belly and felt her son move and that look in her eyes. And then the moment of the delivery, when the intended father laid eyes on his son for the first time. I felt like I had really done something that mattered for someone else.”
“Some people do it for the money…but for me it’s also about the activism.” – Kelly Rummelhart, 36, Gridley, California, married, 9-year-old girl and 7 and 4-year-old boys

I remember in high school I had a friend that was gay and I wondered how he would have a baby. At the same time, a straight couple on “Days of Our Lives” had a baby by surrogate. I thought that was amazing, and I wanted to do that for someone. Then once I had my own kids, I thought how happy I was having my kids and couldn’t imagine what it would be like for someone who couldn’t have babies.

I also knew I wanted to work with a gay couple. Some people do it for the money, or they always wanted to do it, but for me it’s also about the activism. I don’t have a million dollars to donate to specific causes, but I do have a working uterus. I’ve delivered two sets of twins for two gay couples. When others have found out that my couples were gay they haven’t really said anything to my face, but I’m sure there is talk behind my back.

[My first couple] lived only three hours away and wanted me to be a part of their lives, so we see the girls every 8-12 weeks. I remember when I was in the delivery room the first time, and the twins met their Grandma, and she was bawling and hugging me … I was like omigosh. It is so utterly amazing and life altering. It is like being on a drug. Who wouldn’t want to do that again? When my surrogacy agency asked me if I would do this again I said yes. I asked my husband and he said do whatever you want to do. You need [your family’s] support.

The way that I explain it to people is for nine months I’m babysitting. I wouldn’t rub my baby and talk to it the same way. So with my second couple, who didn’t live as close, I would play belly buds and put them on my belly. I had the guys record their favorite songs and play it for their babies. For me, I don’t think there are any worst parts. I had really easy pregnancies!”
“Giving something is as important as receiving something.” – Natasha Skinner, 37, Annapolis, Maryland, married, 14-year-old son and 11-, 8-, 5- and 2-year-old daughters

I was a surrogate for my sister-in-law, my husband’s brother’s wife. She has cystic fibrosis so she could not carry a child, but they could genetically create a healthy baby with her egg and his sperm.

It was important for my husband that we had family support, especially if I wasn’t feeling well. We already had five kids so if that meant making a meal or driving a kid somewhere, other family members stepped in. My mother-in-law helped tremendously. And my sister-in-law’s family helped, mostly by providing meals or by watching the kids when I went to the grocery store to get food.

The hardest part was the shots. Nobody ever really talks about that. That was a daily thing, twice a day, and they were painful. Also, just not feeling great was hard. With my own pregnancies I felt fine after 13 weeks, but for this one, it was 19 weeks. However, I would do it again if I were younger. But I probably wouldn’t do it for someone who wasn’t a family member. Fortunately for me, it’s my nephew – I can see him and I know how he is doing.

Really the best part was at the end when they received their baby, just to see the joy and happiness. When John and Kelly came in, I thought she was going to faint. You could just see that they were elated. It was very special, and it absolutely brought us closer. Giving something is as important as receiving something.”