Being a surrogate mother to the highest bidder might seem like a pretty weird concept to most of us. Pregnancy is hard enough when you're doing it for your own flesh and blood. Can you imagine going through all that for complete strangers? It's a totally alien concept to most of us. And for all the surrogate mothers out there, having a child inside you that is not actually yours is like having an alien growing inside of you (their words, not mine). So why do it? The truth is that some women just enjoy being pregnant. Some of us might not understand this, but the truth is that everyone reacts to pregnancy in a different way. Some of us feel like it's the best part of life. Others would never ever want to go through it ever again.
But as strange as the concept is, it's a common source of income for a lot of women out there. Many of these women are veterans of this unique trade, and have carried multiple babies to term for their "employers." When you've delivered one baby, you're considered "experienced," and you get paid more for the next baby. In this way, some women have viable careers keeping themselves almost perpetually pregnant. But what do these women actually have to say about the process? As it turns out, there are some serious horror stories...
15 "I know that death is a possibility"
We might have come a long way since the middle ages, but death is still very much possible during pregnancy. And we're not just talking about stillbirths, we're talking about the mother dying as well. While it might not be too pleasant to think about, it's considered a necessary risk in order to bring new life into the world. But would you really take the same risk for a baby that isn't even yours? All for a few thousand dollars? That's one of the most troubling things that these surrogate mothers think about...
One mother reveals: "I know that death is a possibility. The surrogacy agency orchestrated a life insurance policy that the Intended Parents pay for while we are under contract. While I know that money isn't a replacement for me in my family, at least they'd be taken care of financially."
14 "A drug test... and a psychological exam... they screen like mad"
How does it really feel to be simply a tool for other people to have babies? Do you still have the same level of excitement and warm feelings about being pregnant? Most surrogate mothers would answer yes to that question, although there are some major differences. First of all, you have a lot less control. You're treated more like a piece of medical equipment than a human being, as many surrogate mothers have revealed. You are subject to rigorous testing. Psychological exams, drug tests, all of that is part of the process of becoming a surrogate mother. How would you feel if you were going through all of that? It must be really hard to be analyzed and tested as though you were a human guinea pig...
One surrogate mother revealed: "I definitely needed to take a drug test... and a psychological exam... they screen like mad for this stuff."
13 "If there was something wrong with the baby [...] they would have grounds for legal battle"
So let's say you decided to be a surrogate mother, and you went through almost the entire pregnancy. But at the last minute, either before or after the infant was born, you discover that there's something wrong with the baby. What happens then? Do you still get paid? Well as one surrogate mother reveals, not only could you not get paid, but you could also be sued. This seems really harsh, and it is. But they can only sue you if you did something that directly impacted the baby due to your own negligence. But lawyers are a crafty bunch, and it's definitely within the realm of possibility that an innocent woman could be sued if her baby had issues. On the other hand, punishing a surrogate mother for drinking or smoking during pregnancy makes total sense.
One surrogate mother reveals: "If there was something wrong with the baby and they could prove it was due to negligence on my behalf, they would have grounds for legal battle."
12 "It is basically 20k for a year of my time and energy"
So how much do surrogate mothers actually get paid? For such an ordeal, you might expect the payment to to be pretty high. After all, they're putting themselves through a long, tiresome, arduous and potentially life-threatening ordeal. For a whole year essentially. And remember, pregnant women can't really work for the majority of their pregnancy, especially in the last few months. So they should be getting paid the big bucks, right? Well, one surrogate mother revealed that she gets paid a relatively meager sum of $20,000 to deliver one baby. One commenter on Reddit pointed out that this was essentially 13.89 an hour (based on a 40 hour week excluding taxes.) Hardly that impressive...
"[I get paid] 20k, divided into monthly installments, not including other costs being paid for like all travel, insurance, maternity clothing, etc. Edit: this does not add up to 180k like some people are posting. It is basically 20k for a year of my time and energy. There were quite a few months of planning and preparation before actually getting pregnant."
11 "Progesterone [...] in the butt cheek, huge needles. Yeah it's not all ice cream and pickles..."
So for $20,000, you have to put yourself through all the discomforts and stresses of a regular pregnancy, and you don't even get to keep the baby in the end. Does that still sound worth it to you? Well that's not all surrogate mothers have to deal with. In addition, they are required to get regular injections to make sure their body didn't reject the fetus growing inside of them. After all the baby inside of them is not related to them at all most of the time - These hormones contained things like progesterone, and this had to be injected in large needles directly into the butt throughout the whole pregnancy. So if you have a fear of needles, surrogacy might not be for you...
"That's what all the hormone injections were for. Lupron (in the belly, small needles) and Progesterone in oil (in the butt cheek, huge needles) in case you care which ones. Hehe, yeah it's not all ice cream and pickles. The Progesterone was for pretty much the whole first trimester!"
10 "I will like to see pictures every once in a while. It might haunt me if I never heard from them again..."
Probably the biggest thing people don't understand about being a surrogate mother is the fact that you have to give your child away at the end of the pregnancy. The same child that has shared your body for 9 months. How could you not develop a connection with that child? It doesn't even matter that the child might not be genetically related to you. There's still the possibility that you will feel crushed in that moment that you have to hand over the baby. And as one surrogate mother reveals, she has accepted that she'll probably lose touch with the baby that she gave birth to...
"I think we'll maintain contact but not super close [with the child] (we live several states away from the IP's (Intended Parents). We already have a nice strong friendship going but who knows what will happen, we will probably drift apart... but I will like to see pictures every once in a while. It might haunt me if I never heard from them again..."
9 "If she decided to keep it, there is nothing you could legally do to stop her"
Imagine that moment when you've finally given birth to the surrogate child that you've been carrying for the last 9 months. But when you see that baby, some maternal instinct "clicks" in your mind. You suddenly don't want to give that child away. What happens then? Well, first of all, you won't get paid. But the next thing depends totally on whether you used an egg donor or your eggs are the ones getting fertilized. If they're your eggs, then you can legally keep the child as your own, and there's nothing the "parents" can do about it. Can you imagine a more awkward situation?
One surrogate mother explained: "We used an egg donor. The Intended Parents (IP's) are unable to have children because the mother had a hysterectomy at a very young age due to cancer. If you let the surrogate be the real mother, then you are no longer hiring a surrogate, you are adopting her child. If she decided to keep it, there is nothing you could legally do to stop her."
8 "You're going home empty handed but your body and hormones could make you very sad. I was pretty sad and the hormone dump was no fun..."
Some of the most touching horror stories about horror stories are not about huge needles or stillborn children, but the emotional distress that follows pregnancy. Many women know that after giving birth, you get what some people refer to as a "hormone dump." This is a complete crash in mood. This surrogate mother confesses that she wishes that she had someone with her at the hospital. She was all alone. This is pretty depressing stuff...
"A little piece of advice for after the delivery...make sure you have someone to come visit you while you're in the hospital and when you first get home. You may be perfectly fine knowing that you're going home empty handed but your body and hormones could make you very sad. When I had the twins, they had to be in the special care nursery for a bit and the parents were with them, understandably. When my family couldn't be there with me, I was pretty sad and the hormone dump was no fun!"
7 "My mother cried when I told her I was thinking about becoming a surrogate mother"
If you can accept the risks and strangeness of becoming a surrogate mother, then that's one thing. But what about your family. How do you think they would take the news? In reality, it can be a pretty hard choice to explain to pretty much everyone you love. But as one surrogate mother confesses, there's nothing more awkward and more emotional than telling your mother that you're going to be getting pregnant with someone else's baby. The saddest part about this story is that the mom wanted a grandchild so badly...
The surrogate mother confesses: "My family was weird about it at first (mostly my mom). My mother cried when I told her I was thinking about becoming a surrogate mother. She was like, "But I thought the next time you got pregnant it would be mine... I mean yours..." It was weird and Freudian but really she wanted another grandchild and was sad to think I would be pregnant and it wouldn't be -her- grandbaby."
6 "[My boyfriend and I] were not allowed to be intimate for I think two weeks before and two weeks after"
It's quite understandable that family members might not take the news of a woman becoming a surrogate mother so well. But what about her boyfriend? How would he feel, watching as his girlfriend's belly swelled up with another man's baby. Sure, it's not like another man actually put the baby there personally - but that's still got to be a little confusing for a dude to witness. But how does her pregnancy affect their sex life? That's one question a surrogate mother answered, and what she said might shock you. According to her, she's actually not allowed to do the deed with her boyfriend for two weeks before, and two weeks after she gets fertilized with the egg. Can you imagine that?
"[My boyfriend and I] were not allowed to have sex for I think two weeks before and two weeks after, to make sure that I didn't get pregnant by my bf and to make sure the embryo stayed implanted."
5 "She wanted me to be her surrogate for free"
You'd be surprised at how often women are approached and asked if they would be interested in being a surrogate mother. You might have even experienced it yourself personally. Couples are sometimes very forward about their offers, but it's often family members and close friends that will try to pressure women into being surrogate mothers. But it really crosses the line when people try to get their loved ones to become surrogates for free. And as it turns out, one surrogate mother remembers her sister trying to convince her to do this:
"She really tried to guilt me into it, even enrolling my bother and dying father into the guilt trip party. "But we're family!" "How can you be so selfish!" "She wants kids but can't have any more, you don't want kids but have a healthy womb... it's a win/win!" The bonus is... she wanted me to be her surrogate for free. She said she'd cover any medical costs, but when I mentioned that most surrogates get at least $15K to bring the pregnancy to term, she balked. "If I had that kind of money, I wouldn't need you!" I told her to kick rocks."
4 "I had terrible morning sickness that didn't go away until I delivered"
Dealing with morning sickness is bad enough when you're pregnant with your own child. But what about when you're carrying someone else's? It must be extra strenuous knowing that you're getting sick every morning, without even getting the opportunity to hold a baby in your arms when it's all said and done.
It's also a pretty well-known fact that being pregnant with twins is much more strenuous than being pregnant with just one child. This makes sense, as you're actually carrying two fully-sized babies instead of one. You're going to be heavier, and your pregnancy will definitely be harder than that of a woman delivering just one. You actually get paid more if you choose to have twins instead of just one child, which is what this particular surrogate mother decided to do. But she probably wasn't banking on getting the worst kind of morning sickness every day of her pregnancy...
She admits: "When I carried the twins, I had terrible morning sickness that didn't go away until I delivered."
3 "Miscarriage was a fear for me"
The number one thing that all pregnant women fear is a miscarriage. In some ways, this is an even greater fear than dying in the middle of childbirth. It's an ordeal that can cause massive amounts of depression women, and definitely not something that any woman wants to think about, whether they're having their own baby or someone else's. The sad truth is that women often blame themselves for miscarriages, although they really shouldn't. But this particular surrogate mother reveals that she was more scared about miscarriages during her surrogate pregnancy than she was during her own. She just didn't want to disappoint the parents who were paying her.
She admits: "Miscarriage was a fear for me, probably more so than my own pregnancies. In part, because I've been fortunate never to have had one. I didn't want to disappoint the parents, because I knew how much they had invested in their baby, even if rationally I knew it wouldn't have been my fault."
2 "The twins were showing signs of health problems"
So what happens when things start going downhill? One such story comes from a surrogate mother with not just twins, but a separate "singleton' baby as well. You can get some pretty weird and unusual things happening in the womb when you start artificially inseminating women with fertilized eggs. This woman was undoubtedly attracted by the higher paycheck, although she might have taken on a few too many babies for her own good. In the end, the twins were showing signs of health problems, and the parents (not the mother) chose to have the twins aborted.
This mother had heard this story from another surrogate, saying: "One surrogate I’ve spoken to ended up pregnant with triplets, a single baby and a set of identical twins. Those intended parents opted for an elective reduction - as the twins were showing signs of health problems - and she ended up carrying the healthy singleton to term."
1 "You can’t really “not believe” in abortion to be a surrogate. It’s part of the contract that you would agree to it"
Speaking of abortion, that's another controversial subject within surrogacy. Mothers are expected to let other people make the decision of how and when they get an abortion, which is a pretty insane concept. "Pro-Choice" is generally the term used to describe people that support abortion, but is it still pro-choice when someone makes that decision for you? It's literally in a contract that you sign when you become a surrogate mother...
"You can’t really “not believe” in abortion to be a surrogate. It’s part of the contract that you would agree to it, if the parents made that decision. Legally, if you were pregnant you could still make the decision to not go through with it. There have been cases of this happening (which do give surrogacy a bad rep), and there have been surrogates who have ended up keeping the child they carried. Personally, I would’ve had an abortion it if that was what was asked of me. I felt like it was not my baby, not my decision. But, I was very fortunate that it didn’t come up."