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Giving unconditionally so that others may also find their happily ever after

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Life is a journey. It’s full of twists and turns and highs and lows. Sometimes it throws you curve balls but, other times, it provides you with experiences that lead you to be a better person, to grow, to change and to make an impact on someone else’s life.
Recently Sarah Brown’s journey took her down a path that allowed her to do all that and much, much more.
Twenty-eight-year-old Brown, who was born and raised in the Swan River Valley, is the daughter of Mike and Sandy Milroy. She made the move to Port McNeill, British Columbia, on northern Vancouver Island, back in August of 2015 and took her life-long dream of being a surrogate with her.
“My son has changed my life in so many ways,” said Brown of her eight-year-old biological child. “I can’t imagine my life without him.
“My heart goes out to families who are struggling with fertility issues, or families that can’t have children for other reasons. Surrogacy has been something on my heart for a long time, almost like a life mission.”
When Brown decided to complete this mission she spent a few months choosing the right agency before setting out to fulfill her goal just before new year’s resolution time came in 2016.
“I chose Canadian Surrogacy-Fertility Consultants (CFC),” she said. “They are known as the agency in Canada with the happiest and most return surrogates.
“They have created a safe place for intended parents, egg donors, and surrogates by honoring everyone involved in the process and offering a whole host of programs and staff that help everyone get the answers they need without red tape.”
A number of qualifications needed to be met before Brown could join CFC – including having at least one healthy, non-complicated pregnancy and birth, being a non-smoker, and over the age of 19 – all of which she met.
“There are also several other psychological and medical screenings to pass going on further in the matching process,” she said, noting qualifications are different depending on the fertility clinic that is used.
“I worked through the Fertility Centre of Las Vegas. They have a much stricter screening process to pass, but also have the highest success rates in North America.”
Brown also created a profile for herself, detailing what she was looking for out of the experience and what she was looking for in the intended parents.
“When a match was made, both parties agreed to meet via email, and we were free to communicate or meet up and get to know each other for two weeks before deciding if we wished to work together,” she said.
“I fell in love with my guys quickly, and within one week they asked me if I would like to help them grow their family. I happily agreed.”
Brown’s intended parents were a gay couple from France who she often refers to as ‘my guys’. She was instantly touched by their story and, from there, only developed a deeper relationship with them throughout the journey.
“They had been together for five years at that time, and knew from the beginning that they wanted their own genetic children,” she said. “In France gay couples are not permitted to use surrogacy or in vitro fertilization (IVF) for reproduction so, they knew they would have to use international surrogacy to become parents.
“I myself am a bit of a rebel, and wanted to be part of standing up for the injustice of the world. Today they are trail blazers in Europe, crossing oceans and loopholes in the legal red tape and hoping to create change to the laws in France for equality.”
In the early stages, the process of surrogacy was described as being very much hurry up and wait.
“After the initial screening, there is a lot of medical and clinic checkups required, the legal side involving the contract, and waiting on egg donors, along with the dreaded fertility medications,” Brown said.
“I found everything in the beginning so overwhelming. Especially when, the reality of the relationship is, you are still just getting to know each other but sharing such intimate and personal medical and health related details of your life.”
Like with any IVF process, Brown started hormones for a time before undergoing the first session.
“The first and only transfer took place onSept 20, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nev.,” she said. “They implanted two embryos and then I was on four days of bed rest.
“The first transfer took and I knew quickly that I was pregnant. The boys wanted to wait for blood work numbers, so I knew for a week before them. It was a hard secret to keep!
“They were so happy and also a little anxious until the seven week ultrasound, when we found out that it was not only one baby but two,” Brown continued. “It was very exciting for them, as they were very much hoping for twins.”
Each dad created embryos, allowing both the opportunity to become a biological parent and making the babies, technically, half siblings.
“We found out at the 20 week ultrasound what the genders would be, and that as well was amazing,” said Brown, noting that it was one boy and one girl. “I planned a big gender reveal on the beach with my son Savion and made them a video, telling them the good news!
“It was overwhelming and happy news for all of us. I was so excited to know I would be a part of creating this perfect little family.”
Amongst all the happiness there was always the potential for medical concern.
“As a surrogate, we assume a whole lot of risk,” Brown said. “There is the medical risk involved, which was a 15 page essay to initial, sign, and agree to on all things bad that could go on.
“There is the risks involved with the unstudied IVF medications, and their unknown long term effects on women. IVF also increases the risk of carrying multiples and it also increases the risks of bleeding and miscarriages.
“Then, there is the mental and emotional toll that a journey can have on a surrogate and her family,” she continued. “ Becoming a surrogate is not something to take lightly. Your desire to be a dream giver must outweigh your fear of risk. Love wins.”
To help minimize risk to the babies, intended parents can request for surrogates to stay away from certain foods or activities they feel may be harmful for the child they are carrying.
“My guys were pretty chill about everything,” Brown said. “They only asked that I stay away from cat litter and sushi, and didn’t do any dangerous, risky sports or activities. It’s all agreed to prior in a contract.”
Both physical and mental health are very important through the process and many supports are put in place for the surrogate.
“After the initial psych evaluation is passed, not much more is said on mental health,” said Brown. “But, the door is always open within the agency for any surrogate who needs help. Our mental health can change in an instant.
“Within the sisterhood at CFC there is a lot of stress on self-care, self-love, staying open, and expressing how we are feeling to intended parents, friends, partners or a councilor. Good mental health of a surrogate is necessary for healthy babies and healthy families.”
Because of the importance of proper mental health, Brown stayed in constant communication with the intended parents throughout the pregnancy.
“My boys and I built a very strong bond as friends,” she said. “I often wished they were closer throughout the pregnancy, but they were there emotionally 100 percent of the time.”
The intended parents arrived on Vancouver Island 10 days before the babies were born.
“We had a lot of time to get to know each other,” Brown said. “I stayed with them in Campbell River, as there are no emergency medical services here in Port McNeill.
“They cooked French cuisine for me, talked to their baby belly, and rubbed my feet! I was very fortunate to have this time with them, as often this is not the case.”
Soon it was time for the babies to enter the world and on May 19 Brown was induced with both babies being born just after midnight on May 20.
Read the rest of this two-part series in next week’s Star and Times. There we will look at the birth, dealing with the emotions of the surrogacy process and the impact on the new parents.