I never had the desire to have a baby physically. The idea of using a surrogate started before I ever considered the process. I was young and married, and at the time, my husband wanted a baby—but I didn't.
Unfortunately, that relationship didn't work out. But when I met my now husband, I loved him tremendously; it was a different type of love. With him, I wanted to have a kid. So, at 36, I froze my eggs and embryos.
After a few years, we started talking about it seriously. In my heart, I knew using a surrogate was the only way I'd have a child. I saw what women would go through to carry a baby, and it just wasn't something that I was prepared to do.
I have a lot of admiration and respect for women who have children and work, but I never thought that was for me.
I didn't judge myself. I allowed myself to say hey, giving birth is just not for me. I did, on the other hand, know the traditional surrogacy route was for me—but not for health reasons. Instead, my reason, which probably isn't popular, was a life decision that worked best for us.
We used a surrogacy agency recommended by a friend and found a mother of two who'd given birth before. She was also very honest about why she was interested in being a surrogate.
As a single mom originally from Cuba, she had been in the States for eight years trying to make enough money to feed and provide for her family—and it wasn't easy. I knew the money meant a lot, but also, I'm originally from Columbia, and we're both Hispanic. I felt a connection and kinship with her.
Plus, I felt she would do a good job.
Looking back, we didn't expect or think about the cost upfront. The surrogacy costs can be a lot for many families. Ours ended up around $120,000 $140,000 USD.
Our surrogate worked the night shift at the hospital, so we paid her salary for the final three months of pregnancy. We wanted to make sure those long nights didn't take as much of a physical or emotional toll on her. We also paid for her food to ensure a great diet. That alone became really expensive over the nine months.
Our doctors said age wouldn't be an issue, so we didn't factor it into the final cost. When we met her, she was 39; by the time she had our baby, she was 41. Some medical issues arose during labor and delivery, leading to more costs than we expected. We learned there are a lot of possible health risks involved with age that can increase expenses before and after birth.
The hardest part is having faith that everything will work out since you're trusting a person you've barely met to carry your child. As much as you try to get to know and build a connection with them, you may still live in different states and come from diverse backgrounds. It's tough to establish that deep level of connection.
Being comfortable with using a surrogate and taking that chance helps ease the experience and anxiety. You'll have some negative thoughts about not completely controlling the situation—I did. But I leaned on my faith and I prayed everything would go well. I wholeheartedly prayed our baby would be healthy.
One thing that helped was speaking to our surrogate at least once a week. We also virtually attended her doctor's appointments via Zoom. Because we lived in different states, being a part of the journey felt nice.
The most comforting part was that our surrogate was very responsible and caring. She knew what to do already since she had two kids—pregnancy made sense to her. Knowing this helped us build trust and confidence in the process.
We had a really good relationship with her; I'm grateful for that.
We knew what she did but didn't realize how challenging the job would be on her body toward the end of the pregnancy. If you're going to go the surrogate route, I recommend digging deep into what the surrogate does for work and making sure it's manageable. The additional costs also add up, putting more pressure on your relationship.
It also might've been easier (and perhaps less costly) if the surrogate's dietary choices aligned with ours.
Lastly, you want to be comfortable with their age. There will most likely be fewer health risks during and after the pregnancy for a younger surrogate. To be a surrogate, you need to have already had children. With our surrogate being older, it meant she was responsible, but carrying the baby and being pregnant was a little more difficult on her body.
Those are concerns in both tangible and emotional ways.
People always say it, but our baby was the best gift ever. It's hard to understand what that means until you have your own little bundle. As a person who wants to impact the world, I quickly realized that creating a baby that will benefit society is one of the most significant impacts you can have and one of the best gifts you can give. It was a real mind shift.
Sharing that utopian level of love with my son, Rio, is like seeing 3-D your whole life, and suddenly you see 4-D. It's the epitome of what life is and re-establishes your belief in the potential and pure magic of everything.
Ultimately, having Rio and our surrogacy journey was one of the most profound and humbling, exhilarating love-feeling experiences I have ever (and will ever) have. Our family is now complete, and we're forever grateful to the woman who so generously lent us her womb.
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