This beautiful family of 5 will become a family of 6 in early May!

Having a “Keeper” Baby After Surrogacy

By: Amanda Casarez

I have given birth as a surrogate 3x. After I gave birth to the last one in 2018, I was able to look back and think “Wow! What amazing things I was able to be a part of in my life. It brought forward the question though of… “What’s next?” I knew in my heart I was a “retired” surrogate. I even went and got a breast augmentation 4 months after. I felt amazing. The weight loss, the new body, WOW! I was even in a long process of switching careers to LAW ENFORCEMENT. I was able to pass the fitness test (I was the only woman in my group to do so).

My life thus far has always been about pregnancy, babies, children, as I have been a birth doula and an intake coordinator for my wonderful agency. I was feeling elated. And it made me feel so strong to say “oh and I just gave birth to baby #6!” Let me just tell you that in my 6 pregnancies, they were ALL planned. All expected and I found out even before a “missed period”. In my own 3 pregnancies prior to surrogacy and my 3 pregnancies as a surrogate.

Fast forward to just 7 weeks ago when I found out I was EIGHT, yes EIGHT weeks pregnant. Holy moly!! What a detour this is! All these life changes and all these plans. Just goes to show you, life doesn’t always go as planned. But as a “retired surrogate” how did this make me feel? Well let me tell you. The past 7 weeks have been a rollercoaster. I find myself in the car, driving, thinking of the moment I lay eyes on MY baby. That’s right, MY baby. Not A baby. Not THEIR baby. Mine. Wow! This is such a shocker to me at this point. Which brings me to tears every time.

As a surrogate you don’t think of laying eyes on THEIR baby. You don’t think of how they’re going to smell. You don’t think “oh I wonder if they will have my eyes”. So any time I am reminded of this belly, it brings me to tears, even as I write this because then I remember “SHE’S MINE!”. I remember I need a nursery. What carseat are we going to choose?! I get to think of doing skin to skin and how she is going to lay on me. I feel like these emotions are 10x more extreme because I have to remind myself. SHE. IS. MINE.

And then all these special moments come to mind. I am bringing a baby home. After sending 3 babies back home to their families and coming home, sleeping in, getting back to normal life. Nope. Not this time! This time, I get to bring home MY baby. I can feel it from my husband too. He never caressed my surrogate belly. He comes home and says “hi” to my belly before me. He asks me who I think the baby will look like. I sense him feeling all the same emotions I do. He says almost daily “That’s my baby”. Or he thanks me for giving him another baby. When I was pregnant with the belly buddies, he would just ask how I was feeling or if I needed anything. Now he asks me “does my baby crave anything”. I find myself looking around the house “that’s not safe for a baby”. Just so many things I did NOT have to think about before. It gets me so emotional.

I know that this is what all of my IPs must have been feeling. This overwhelming sense of this actually being REAL and it is “really mine this time”. And sensing it from my husband, it makes me realize even more so that you don’t have to necessarily be the one who is pregnant to appreciate these feelings. This whole process has made me feel even more connected to my IPs and what they must have been feeling in those moments. I have been so blessed to be a small part of surrogacy, and being in that whole world for so long- I appreciate this so much more.

Some might say I “gave them such an amazing gift.” But look at all they’ve given ME, a different perspective on what it means to have a child, all the many different ways they happen or come to you. Whether that is via a surrogate, or an absolute surprise-career-halter. I know my daughter can’t hear me most of the time, but I talk to her and tell her this is her home. I tell her I can’t wait to see her and see if she looks like her sisters. I feel her move and my heart lights up. With my belly buddies my thoughts and words were how happy their parents were that they are coming. I would listen and feel them move and relax that they were doing well. My heart flutters in a different way this time, and it is all amazing!

Top row (left to right): Pregnant with first child, pregnant with second child transfer day with surro baby #1, pregnant with third child.

Bottom row (left to right): Pregnant with surro baby #2, pregnant with surro baby #3, transfer day with surro baby #4, pregnant with fourth child.