I often catch myself daydreaming about what I would have told my younger self if I could travel back in time, especially concerning my career and passions. If you had asked 16-year-old Casey what I wanted to do when I grew up, I probably would have said that I wanted to work in law enforcement, specifically helping families and women in difficult situations. I think I would have been surprised to find out that one day I’d be helping families through IVF.
Even from a young age, becoming a mom was something that excited me. When I learned that I was going to be a mother for the first time, I can say wholeheartedly that it brought me joy, knowing that soon I would be holding my sweet baby girl in my arms.
I always envisioned myself with a big family and naively assumed that having a child would be straightforward for anyone who wanted one. However, the complexity of the situation hit me shortly after I found out I was expecting my second daughter.
Learning that my lifelong friend—someone I grew up and attended both high school and college with—was struggling with repeated pregnancy losses was both devastating and a pivotal moment for me. Being someone who naturally wants to help and support others, I felt heartbroken and helpless to hear that she and her husband had been struggling in silence for years, never carrying a pregnancy past its early stages.
I realized how fortunate I had been to have had a positive pregnancy experience, free from the struggles of morning sickness that many endure. During those special months, I often felt a newfound sense of energy and was at my best. I was inspired to learn about becoming a surrogate. Experiencing the love you feel when you see your child for the first time is a beautiful, special gift. I truly believe that anyone who desires to have a family should have that opportunity.
In the end, my friend didn’t need any help from me beyond my support. She and her husband saw an IVF specialist and she had a successful, uncomplicated pregnancy, followed shortly after by a pregnancy without IVF, but her struggle was the beginning of my surrogacy journey.
As I began researching the process of surrogacy, I discovered that there are many agencies that match surrogates with prospective parents. I needed to do a lot of research to decide what was important to me, what type of family I was hoping to help, and what assistance I was looking for from the agency.
I knew I had found the right agency when the owner personally met with me to thoroughly answer all my questions and walk me through the process. She explained what pursuing surrogacy would entail and asked me thoughtful questions about what I was looking for in a match, what was important to me, and how I envisioned this experience unfolding. I quickly realized that becoming a surrogate was a very serious undertaking involving many important questions that helped ensure that I was qualified and that it was safe for me to be a surrogate.
After the agency collected all of my records and I jumped through all the necessary pre-screening hoops, I was told I would make an amazing surrogate. To say I was excited doesn't fully capture the joy I felt upon learning that I would get to pursue this process and help another family. Looking back at my first journey, I feel truly grateful that the experience was fairly seamless. Now, with the knowledge I have, I understand that this isn't always the case.
As I read the “Dear Surrogate” letter the intended parents I matched with wrote, I cried. I loved learning about why they needed a surrogate, their desire to grow their family and their deep gratitude for the opportunity. I knew this was the couple I wanted to help.
The next few milestones went smoothly. After undergoing medical screening, I had the chance to meet both intended parents in person, which was incredibly special. The excitement on their faces was something I’ll never forget. After receiving medical clearance from the intended parents' IVF doctor, the next step was legal clearance. Though the process involved a lengthy contract and complex legal language, it didn’t dull my enthusiasm.
Transfer day was among my favorite milestones — though it's hard to pick just one. I was a bundle of emotions: excited but nervous and hopeful that the embryo transfer would be successful. The procedure itself was quick, and I remember asking the doctor, "That's it? We're done?" Five days later, I took the first pregnancy test and saw a faint pink line. Over the moon with joy, I took seven more tests just to be sure.
The transfer happened around Thanksgiving. I took a few more pregnancy tests and decided to FaceTime the intended parents to share the exciting news. Though I hadn't said a word, I'm sure they could read my expression. I turned the camera to show them the pregnancy tests and said, "Here's something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. You're going to be parents in just nine short months!" It was a touching moment to see them so emotional, tears streaming down their faces, as we shared something that is usually so private.
Fast forward to the day of the ultrasound to find out the baby's gender. The room was small but filled with immense love and excitement. The intended mom was by my side, clutching my hand, with her husband standing behind her. Both were brimming with anticipation. My husband, who had grown close to the intended father, was also there, eager to cheer them on. Looking back, I have to laugh, imagining what the ultrasound tech must have thought, seeing all of our expectant faces.
The technician asked, "Do you want to know the gender?" Without hesitation, the intended father exclaimed, "Yes, yes!" She announced, "It's a boy!" The intended father, a tall man of 6'2", threw his hands up in the air, tears streaming down his face, and shouted, "I got my boy, I got my boy!" There wasn't a dry eye in the room; even the technician was moved to tears.
Later, as my husband and I were driving home, he turned to me before starting the car and said, "Casey, I'm so proud of you. I remember when you first told me about wanting to be a surrogate, and I thought it was a bit odd. But now, I see why you wanted to do this, and I just want you to know how incredibly proud I am of you. You've made an immeasurable difference in their lives, and because of you, they will have a child to love, admire, and adore just like we do our own girls."
He was right. I love my girls more than anything and can't imagine life without them. Being a mother has been one of my greatest joys. Loving my girls unconditionally has been effortless, and it breaks my heart knowing that many families yearn for that same experience but are unable to have the family they so deeply desire.
The day of delivery was the ultimate celebration, the grand finale that everyone had been eagerly anticipating. My due date had come and gone. The intended parents and I had spent days together walking on the beach, trying to induce labor, and even eating spicy food in hopes of triggering labor. On the day I actually went into labor, we had just been window-shopping and walking around the mall. We decided to call it a day, and the intended dad dropped me off at my house. Shortly after he left, I started to have some consistent contractions. Go figure, right?
I called the intended father and told him he should probably turn around and come get me because it was go time! I wish I could have seen his face during that phone call. The silence said it all; he was in shock, disbelief, and extremely excited.
My biggest concern as I noticed the contractions were getting closer was not being able to get an epidural on time. But as soon as we arrived, they had a wheelchair waiting for me. The intended mom, who had been at a hotel, was also there to greet us. We went up to the room, and I was relieved to hear that it wasn't too late for an epidural. As I waited for it, I leaned my head on the intended mother's shoulder while they gave me the epidural. Not long after, the doctor confirmed that I was fully dilated and ready to deliver.
Watching the parents hold their baby and do skin-to-skin contact was indescribable. They had desired this child for so long, and witnessing that moment was incredibly special. It's a day I'll remember forever.
After that day, two facts became clear: A) if given the opportunity, I would be a surrogate again, and B) I had a newfound passion and desire to immerse myself in the surrogacy industry and help others. I went on to work for the agency through which I had been a surrogate. Three years later, I had the chance to help another family, again having an incredible experience. I spent seven years in the industry, learning all the ins and outs of surrogacy, IVF, and educating both women and intended parents.
While working for that company, I met an amazing human being named Sunshine Hanson. She was also an experienced surrogate with many years in the industry. Our paths collided, and little did I know then that she would soon become my future business partner.
Along with her amazing husband Kyle, we poured our hearts and passion into our company, aiming to educate the amazing women who choose to become surrogates, as well as intended parents on their wonderful journeys to growing their beautiful families. The company we started in 2020 has now become a safe haven, a place of hope and education for so many.
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