Hannah matched with Kelly and Pat in 2021 for their surrogacy journey through Family Source Consultants. Kelly and her husband are expecting their baby in August of 2022!

In this interview, they shared how they felt when they first met, how their journey has gone so far, and their advice for others who are considering pursuing surrogacy as intended parents or gestational carriers.

Could you each tell us a little about yourselves?

[Hannah] My name’s Hannah. I am a surrogate. And I’m now 22 weeks pregnant. This is my first journey.

[Kelly] I’m Kelly. Hannah is our surrogate. We were partnered with Family Source back in 2020. The match with Hannah was ultimately the one that brought us our 22-week miracle baby.

How did you decide to pursue surrogacy?

[Kelly] My husband and I started trying to have a baby in January of 2019. I think, like so many other women, when you start trying, you’re like, okay, this is going to happen right away. And that was not the case for us. And I’ve always been someone who has believed that, if I try hard enough, I can make it happen. And that wasn’t the case.

So, we tried naturally for nine months. We saw a specialist who recommended surgery. And after that, we did two years of IVF, every test underneath the sun, it ended up being about eight rounds of IVF. And then in the midst of the pandemic, I had a zoom with my doctor, and he said I’m sorry, kiddo, but I think the best way for you to bring a child into this world is going to be through surrogacy or adoption, but we were fortunate enough to be able to get healthy embryos. And so, when we were deciding between surrogacy and adoption because we had those embryos, we said what’s, let’s give this a try.

What made you decide to become a surrogate?

[Hannah] I was always interested in helping a family in that way. I enjoyed being pregnant. I have two of my own, and it took us a while to get pregnant the first time around. So, we had just started looking into IVF and other options like Clomid and things like that. And then we ended up being able to get pregnant, but it did take about 15 months for us.

I knew going through that experience how stressful it can be and how it really just took up a lot of my mental capacity, like every day. And so, I wanted to be able to give back in that way. I liked being pregnant a lot. I’m very done having my own children. I love my children, but I don’t want anymore.

And so that was something that I was very confident in and. This gives me the opportunity to be pregnant and not have to figure out newborn life all over again and help somebody at the same time. So, it’s a win-win for me as well.

How did you know that Hannah was the right person to be your surrogate?

[Kelly] It could make me start crying, thinking about it because when we met with Hannah and her husband we instantly connected.

There was no lull in the conversation. I just immediately trusted her. I was just like, oh my God, this is perfect. On paper looked perfect. And I had my guard up a little bit going into this conversation, but immediately she took that guard down right away. And we just knew.

My husband and I said before we got on the call, we said, ‘We’re not going to make any decisions on this call. We’re going to, have a conversation about it after,’ and I kept hitting him on the leg and he was pinching my leg back and I wrote on a piece of paper. I said, ‘Are we good to go?’ And he was like, ‘Yes’.

And so on the call, we were like, will you be our surrogate, please? Just so excited. So, it was amazing.

What made you choose to be a surrogate for Kelly and Pat?

[Hannah] So, I read over the application and what really stood out to me was the way that they spoke about each other in the application. There are questions about why do you think your partner would be a great parent? And that part was really impactful to me. And I was like, ah, I want to make these people, parents.

This is still and it, and then I think when we met the call it was funny because I think immediately, we were all like, oh yeah, let’s just do this. I think the other piece that’s, that was helpful for me in that meeting that I didn’t know I was looking for was a similar sense of humor to mine and my partners.

The whole journey is just bananas when you really think about it. There are so many ups and downs and it’s just, there’s a lot to it. And so, to be able to go into it again, after all that they’ve been through, just like still with this kind of positive outlook and humor about the whole thing, I think has been really helpful.

Were you able to attend the transfer together?

[Hannah] Yeah. They literally showed up with donuts and socks, so they hung out just literally outside of the office. So that was at least a very good time. The sign, I’ll probably have it forever that they made for me. They printed out like a “Go Hannah!” sign with some cute clip art and stuff. I really appreciated having their support that day in person, even though they couldn’t be in the room with me.

[Kelly] Yeah. There was no doubt in our minds that we were going to attend. Whether we were sitting in the lobby or the parking lot, we like, we want to be there. And yeah, we created signs with Microsoft word, like emojis, not creative at all, but they made her laugh and that’s all that matters.

We brought donuts for the staff donuts for her and her family. We had developed such a great relationship with our fertility doctor. We felt like we were a part of their family, and we still do. And so, it was important for us to show support, not only to Hannah but to our doctor as well.

Were you worried that the embryo transfer would be unsuccessful?

[Kelly] We were terrified.

So we have, we had three [embryos], we now have two, obviously. What was the hardest thing for us was that I am unable to make any more eggs and so I don’t have the opportunity to make any more embryos, of course, that would be biologically a hundred percent ours.

And so, our thought process was — we went in very cautiously. We were scared. We were like, okay, we have three chances of having a biological child. And we were never opposed to egg donors or anything like that. But of course, We were excited to have our own child. And when we had the three, we were very nervous.

And the fact that it took on the first one, it was just, we were blown away.

[Hannah] I definitely kept waiting for the other shoe to drop with them. I think at the beginning there are so many appointments and check-ins. Part of that’s reassuring. They get to go see every week that things are growing and everything’s on track.

But part of it is, it feels like every single week you have another, you gotta overcome. And you’ve got another thing that you got to make sure that everything’s good for this one. So, I know it would have been really hard for me to not feel like it was partly something else I could have done. I think just trusting or trusting the process was really helpful and yeah, it worked on the first one, but so we’re all really great.

How did you announce the pregnancy?

[Kelly] So, the announcement we waited, we had miscarried in the past. And so, we wanted to make sure that when we had announced it, on top of miscarrying, obviously we went through so many canceled, failed cycles that for a while we felt like we were just always giving people bad news. And so for us, we actually kept our entire surrogacy journey with the exception of our family private – our immediate family.

We didn’t introduce the world to Hannah until it was, I think 13 weeks. We wanted to wait until we were all in the clear because like I said, we had just always gotten bad news and it felt like we were always giving bad news too.

And when we were finally able to announce it was the best day of our lives, easily.

Do people have a hard time understanding the fact that you’re working with a surrogate?

[Kelly] I feel like they think of when they think of surrogacy, they think of Kim Kardashians only, and like the Kardashians doing it. And so even now being able to say we’re pregnant. The first thing people do is they look at my belly and I’m like.. or if I’ll have a glass of wine, they’ll be like, but you’re pregnant!

And it’s been a little bit difficult to explain, naturally, but once I do explain it people are so excited and just think it is like the biggest gift and miracle, which it is. And I think they also see that from my husband, Pat, and my reaction too because we’re just so excited and so proud of the surrogate that we do here.

Do people question why you wanted to become a surrogate?

[Hannah] I think it depends on the person and the relationship that I have with them. I know when I first brought it up to my husband, he was like, you, whatever you want to wear it like your wife. But he was very quickly on board. He was it’s your body. Okay. I’m supportive, whatever you want to do overall, when people hear about it, it’s just been overwhelmingly supportive.

And I’m curious, I think too, I’ve gotten some good questions, but I’m really happy to be able to share more about my experience and to open people’s minds in a different way to this sort of thing.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering becoming a surrogate?

[Hannah] I think for me, for people wanting to be on the surrogate end of things, asking questions like Kelly said is really important.

I do appreciate the Facebook groups that I’m in. Sometimes they raise questions that I’m like, oh, I didn’t even know. That was something that I should be wondering about. That’s a good question. And also, just knowing what you want going into it and advocating for yourself, I think is really important with this too.

Some people don’t want a relationship in the same way that Kelly and I have a relationship and that’s totally okay. This, it works for me. I think it works for Kelly and her family, but I know some people just prefer — more of a business transaction and situation. And there’s no shame in that game right there. That’s absolutely fine too, but just know what it is that you’re looking for.

And that’s why the matching process is so important. There are a lot of people out there looking for surrogates. There are a lot of people out there trying to become surrogates. So, if the match is sitting wrong in your gut and just isn’t feeling right listen to that and be sure to ask questions and advocate for you.

What advice would you give to potential intended parents?

[Kelly] I would say don’t rule it out. Take the time to look into it. Don’t just say, ‘Oh, there’s no way we’ll be able to afford it.’ I think that is the number one misconception of it. And I also think that it does take strength to decide, to get to that point as well. It takes, I believe a strong person — while Hannah is my miracle – it also does take a strong person to have someone else carry your child.

And so, I think that the advice I would give is just to ask around don’t feel like you’re doing this alone. There are people and resources who can talk to you and can give you the real feedback of it all.

And hopefully, they will be able to inspire you to take this journey.

Staci Swiderski, CEO and owner of Family Source Consultants has been involved in the field of reproductive medicine since 2002. Staci has vigorously grown the comprehensive egg donation and gestational surrogacy agency to become a worldwide leader in the third-party reproduction field. Staci is a former intended parent herself. She and her husband welcomed their son via gestational surrogacy in 2005. Additionally, Staci had the experience of assisting an infertile couple (AKA Recipient Parents) build their family through her efforts as an egg donor, with her donation resulting in the births of their son and daughter.