Let’s dive in…
Who first suggested the idea of surrogacy?
S: It came from Em very soon after our fourth IVF transfer ended in a chemical pregnancy again. I had never even thought about surrogacy as I thought it was more accessible in America and would be totally out of reach financially as well.
E: I did! At the time of offering, I knew it wouldn’t have even come into S&J’s heads. I remember shaking and welling up when I told her because even though I was 100% sure I wanted to do it, I knew it would be so out of the blue for Soph and that emotion really sunk into me.
Was your surrogate medicated before FET?
S – Em chose to do an unmedicated FET cycle. This meant we had more clinic visits when Em was initially being monitored. The only medication Em then needed to take was a trigger shot to induce ovulation, progesterone shots and pessaries after transfer and up until 7/8 weeks pregnant.
For Sophie – What are you most excited about for the future of your new family?
S – I’m most excited to see my husband with him. For so long, I’ve wanted him to be a dad. Almost even more so than I’ve wanted to be a mum.
Jack and I have also been avid travellers and have tried to see as many new places as possible, so I can’t wait to show him the world.
Have you received any negative comments, or has everyone been supportive?
S- We received so much support even before we became pregnant, and the vast majority has been positive. I would say there have been a few things that have happened since this journey started that I’ve found difficult to process, but I always tell myself nothing can be harder to manage than what we’ve already been through.
A few negative comments were left on an article that went onto an American news website about our situation. Some not very nice things were said, but we decided to laugh them off because the people were irrelevant and didn’t know us.
E- From my perspective, positivity has been around me 99% of the time. People cry on the street when I explain why the bump isn’t my baby! But honestly, I think it’s been challenging for some close to us to get their heads around some aspects of it. Not in a moral way, but more of a dynamic way. Which I never expected to happen. But then, I’ve never been in this situation to know how everyone around us would react! So I couldn’t comment on why the positivity hasn’t 100% been there because I’ll never be on that side of the fence. Still, I think it’s important, to be honest, and say that if anyone is considering surrogacy for a friend, it can affect friendships, and it’s a case of navigating your way through those challenges if they arise.
Legally speaking, is surrogacy complicated to organise?
S – It isn’t the most straightforward process in the UK. The main issue is that Em and James will legally be the baby’s ‘mother’ and ‘father’ on the birth certificate initially until we apply for our parental order and go to court.
Therefore Jack and I have no legal guardianship over our child until this process is complete, which can be hard to get your head around.
I believe there is a reform going through to change this but just not in time for us. In our minds, however, it’s just paperwork, and we just need to go through the process.
E- I just did what Soph and the clinic said I needed to do ha! But no, it’s definitely not black and white.
Sophie – what have been your favourite things about preparing to be a mummy?
S – One of my favourite things has definitely been buying little boy’s clothes after we found out his gender. I remember making my first purchase and pinching myself that I could finally do this. I’ve also absolutely loved decorating his bedroom and trying to visualise him in there one day. I’ve also loved asking all my friends with children for their top tips and advice! It’s so lovely to be able to finally talk to them all about babies.
For Em – you seem to have really thought about this decision to be a surrogate and have a very positive attitude but have there been times when it’s hard to deal emotionally with the fact that the baby growing inside you won’t be yours?
E- Honestly, hand on heart, no! James and I had a laugh the other day that we were thankful (in the most loving way!) that the baby isn’t coming home with us. He is going home with S&J. We have so much going on with our little family and lots of exciting plans for the years ahead. There isn’t even a tiny part of me wanting to add a newborn to the mix! I feel so unbelievably privileged that I’ll have a special bond with S&J’s baby. Being our besties, we were always going to be close. But having that extra special Auntie status is enough for me. I love that our kids will know he was grown around them too. Hearing their voices daily, I’m sure, will give them that extra special bond too. We haven’t got a massive family between James and me. Any cousins the children do have are pretty geographically far away, so I really do see this baby and S&J as an extension of our family, which was always the case. It’s just more unique and special now!
Are you going to give him the middle name chafe?
S- I think one of my girls (Kate Chafer!) may have snuck a question in here…
How old is the baby once implanted?
S- On the day of transfer, the embryo was 5 days old, but had been in the freezer for a year beforehand since our last round of IVF. It then takes 5 days from this date for the embryo to implant and another 5 days for the pregnancy hormone to release into the blood to get a positive test. On the day of a positive test, you are usually classed as around 4 weeks pregnant.
Are you going to call the baby Emile?!
S- I don’t think so, no! I did consider trying to thank Em by using her name somehow in his name, but we decided that she would probably much rather have a trip to Ibiza instead!
For Soph- Would you think about surrogacy for a baby smith sibling?
S- From my point of view, absolutely yes. I always dreamed of having 2 or 3 children and would love a sibling for this baby. But Jack is on a very different page when it comes to this. We have spent the past 6 years fighting for this one baby, which has taken up a lot of our energy, time and money. It becomes all you ever think or talk about, which becomes pretty draining. It would also be a case of finding the suitable surrogate if we did decide to, as we know this is a one-time thing with Em. However, we do have one frozen embryo left! So I guess the story isn’t entirely over yet.
For Em- Would you do it again for S&J or anyone else?
E- This was a one-time offer for S&J, and we were always clear on that. Surrogacy is a big life commitment, especially for someone like me who likes to be planning and doing things that aren’t yours every day. I’m leaving my long-term marketing job in February, have started my own business and want to spend quality time seeing the world with our own little ones in the coming years, so pregnancy isn’t something that goes well with those kinds of plans!
Although I have smooth pregnancies, growing a baby is very restrictive, and things like going running (one of my favourite things to do to unwind), socialising (I love music and having a few drinks!) have to go on pause. Little things like lifting my own children and going out for the whole day with them alone without help aren’t possible during the later stages of pregnancy. James is also significantly impacted by it all, he has to step up when the kids wake up at night, so I can sleep (which is most nights!). He gets up at 5am with them and is always around when I go to appointments.
So I guess my point is that I’ve loved doing this for S&J, and I knew all of the above before I offered to do it for them, but once and once only for all of those reasons!
For Em: How is this different from your own pregnancies?
E- Physically, it’s more tiring because of having 2 of my own, plus a regular job, plus running my own business and plus moving home this time around! We haven’t stopped and have limited help, so it’s really down to James and me to make it all work. I’ve had to ensure I’m eating healthily and be more mindful about what I’m eating/how much I’m sleeping. Emotionally it’s more detached as I’m not thinking about adding a newborn to our family at the end of the pregnancy! Which, I guess, makes it less mentally draining! With Theo, I worried a lot about the dynamic changes in the family and the impact on Mollie, but I obviously haven’t got that kind of thing to fret about this time!
How are you feeling, Em?
E- Good thank you 🙂 excited and ready for the big day to come now!
What are you most looking forward to doing as mummies together?
E- Going to Ibiza as families together! It’s our happy place, and knowing that we can take our children there to enjoy it will be the best! Of course, just the standard maternity leave fun too, which has been a long time coming. We’ll definitely be frequenting a few coffee shops!!
S- I can’t believe I’m finally going to be a mummy! I never thought I’d ever get to be one, so honestly, just that in itself is all I can think about right now. Everything else that comes after this is one great big bonus!
For Em- What are your plans after you’ve recovered from a c-section? I know you you’ll be doing something exciting and great!!
E- Haha! Thanks for saying that. Focusing on growing The Mindful Birth Group and furthering my skills and experience as a support for mums and parents through my hypnobirthing classes and doula services will be my most significant focus. I’m so excited about being able to spend all of my working hours on this- it’s been 2 years of being ‘on the side’ of my other job, so that’s very exciting for me as it’ll mean doing what I love and having the flex to be with my family every day too. We’ve just moved house and are having a little studio office built in the garden for everything TMBG- so really looking forward to getting that decorated and set up too!
We’re also planning a few trips in our campervan, and we have a holiday booked to Greece with our other besties… so lots to look forward to this summer!
I’m hoping James and I will get a weekend away somewhere, too, as that’ll be really important for us to reconnect after a hectic first half of 2020!
Thank you to everyone who asked a question, we hope you enjoyed reading our answers!