My Extraordinary Surrogacy Journey
G’day, I’m Stephen Page from Page Proven Family and Fertility lawyers. I want to tell you something personal about me, and that is my extraordinary surrogacy journey. For most people, when they undertake surrogacy, the journey is pretty straightforward.
Most of the time the surrogate gets pregnant, usually the first time, maybe the second, and then she carries the child to completion. It’s comparatively rare that a surrogate has a miscarriage, and I’ve never come across a case in my professional practice where anyone has had an ectopic pregnancy during a surrogacy journey.
Now, to put it in context, I’ve advised in surrogacy cases since 1998 in over seventeen-hundred journeys, for clients throughout Australia and every part of Australia that you can dream up, and at last count, thirty-one countries overseas.
So my husband said to me, he wanted to become a father, and so we made the decision shortly after that to become parents through surrogacy, and we were lucky to have a local surrogate and a local egg donor, unlike most people we didn’t have to go overseas. Well, our surrogacy journey was complex.
The starting point was finances were a bit tighter than I would have liked, and this meant at one stage, we actually changed clinics. I was still on good terms professionally with the first clinic, but we moved to another clinic. We had medical issues to sort out with our surrogate, they were sorted. We had medical issues to sort out with our egg donor, they were sorted, and then embryos were created that seemed to work, and then we went to the first implantation that worked. What we hadn’t expected was a miscarriage.
It’s a kick in the guts, it was just so painful, and our surrogate said, as I’ve seen happen in my professional career, this is what surrogates say, I’ve let you down, it’s a terrible thing that I’ve done. She hadn’t done anything wrong and of course, the doctor said, well, ninety-nine percent of the time it’s likely to be the underlying DNA, the quality of the embryo and then you immediately think, well, it’s not her fault, it must be ours.
What about the next one? Okay, get up grimly and with a sense of purpose and optimism and get on with it. So, when we were ready, we went again.
This time, to our horror, it was an ectopic pregnancy, and as I said, I’ve never come across this in my professional career, and indeed, my colleagues that I’ve talked to interstate overseas, surrogacy agencies, the people I’ve talked to have never seen one.
Certainly, ectopic pregnancies occur just never seen it in surrogacy. But it happened in my matter, in our journey. So there had to be urgent surgery, and I said to a surrogate, we love you, we don’t want anything bad to happen to you, we cherish you. Whether or not we have a child is beside the point. I couldn’t live with myself if something bad happened to you. The whole point of this exercise was to enable us to become parents, not to hurt you or hurt to anyone else.
I couldn’t dream of something bad happening to you. Whether or not we have a child is beside the point. The point is that you are to be okay, that we love you and cherish you. Surgery went well, she recovered and she is a real trooper, and we had a third go at it. This time, the pregnancy went well. Our surrogate was pregnant and our child was conceived and ultimately born. Our daughter almost died in childbirth.
There’s nothing quite like it when you hear the midwife say in the birthing suite, darling, don’t die on me, and she wasn’t talking to our surrogate. She was talking to our unborn child. It was one of those funny things that happened when my husband, after X number of hours of labour, went home to feed the cats, and when he left, not much had happened.
When he came back, not much had happened except in the intervening two hours period, our daughter had almost died in utero. Luckily, she was born okay. In the early hours of the morning, we were lucky to have our own room with our baby. That night, our surrogate was able to be discharged from the hospital until the hospital said, You are the only parent and the child has to stay in overnight and then suddenly it went through three hands of midwives, three hospital executives, the hospital lawyer, who then said that it was advisable that our surrogate not leave the hospital.
No one was under any illusions what that meant, what could happen if she left. She felt violated, she cried. We felt disempowered, we weren’t recognised as parents.
Subsequently, we obtained an order from the Children’s Court that recognised us as the parents. But I’ll talk about that in another video.