At 31, Sue had her hands full. Her five children were all under the age of 16 and living at home, and her husband was stationed in Iraq.
But when her sister underwent an emergency hysterectomy, Sue wanted to help. So, in the spring of 2009, she applied to become a surrogate.
Then she did it again. And again.
Today, Sue has been a surrogate five times over. Yes, that is after having five children of her own – and donating her own eggs multiple times.
For people like Sue, helping others create families just feels right.
“My sister was devastated after her hysterectomy because she knew she wanted more children. That’s when the idea took shape.”
Although Sue didn’t end up carrying a child for her sister, she is proud to have helped so many other parents.
“What I enjoy most about being a surrogate is changing lives. I love being able to create families since I’ve always wanted to be a mom,” she says.
Sue’s surrogacy journeys have even taken her to Europe, where she visited her first and last surrobabies.
So, what is it like to have five babies for other people?
“Each surrogacy had unique situations, some obstacles, setbacks, and great joys,” she says. “Of course, the first journey is near and dear to me. The last two journeys were siblings, so that would be the most memorable.”
Her friends and family have been very supportive throughout each pregnancy, although they were initially unfamiliar with the concept.
“Many were curious about how it all worked, so they asked lots of questions. They wanted to know about the process of getting pregnant, the relationships with the IPs, and so on. They supported me with words of encouragement and even cared for me while I was off work. One friend even attended a birth!”
Self-care has always been important to Sue, and she maintains a healthy exercise regime. She attended her gym regularly throughout her pregnancies, including prenatal and postnatal swim classes. She continues to enjoy bike riding, walking, ellipticals, and weight machines.
“Setting aside time just for myself keeps me focused,” she says.
Fellow ‘serial surrogate’ Ronda has a similar story to tell.
Back in 2016, Ronda was a newly single mom and looking for a way to help others. Then, a newspaper ad for FSC struck a chord.
“I had always wanted to help kids, and I was hoping to be able to adopt,” Ronda says. “I looked into fostering but the thought of having to return a child to their parent was too much for me. When I saw the ad, I knew this was something that I could do.”
Ronda’s first surrogate journey was for a same-sex couple from France. She delivered boy-girl twins for the fathers, who were each a biological parent of the babies.
Having delivered four babies to three sets of Intended Parents, Ronda has had some incredible experiences. On her third journey, her water unexpectedly broke before the Intended Parents had arrived in the US from Spain. But, thanks to the power of technology, she was able to communicate with them right up until the baby arrived.
She later visited the parents and their bundle of joy while in the states before returning to Spain.
“It was such a magical experience as I delivered their first baby, a beautiful girl. My whole family was able to visit with both the parents and both children. We have become family even though they live in Spain!”
Surrogacy has changed rapidly since her first journey, she says.
Many fertility centers now allow medical screenings to be completed locally due to Covid, which was not an option when she began.
“Surrogacy has also become more popular, and there isn’t the negative connotation towards it,” she says.
Like Sue, Ronda has a family who understands how much joy she has provided to other people, and they support her fully.
When her eldest daughter asked why she was becoming a surrogate for the second time, she knew what to say.
“I explained that my body carries babies well, so the least I can do is to help others create their own families,” she says. “My youngest would always explain to anyone who would listen that her mom was a Surrogate. My family was always there throughout the journey and would continually ask how I’m feeling and about the Parents. They still love to see the updated photos of the kids that I have carried for.”
Surrogacy seems to be addictive, she says – and she isn’t surprised that many mothers want to do it over and over again.
“I enjoy feeling the baby moving and speaking to the baby about his/her parents. It is such an amazing feeling to know that you are growing this little baby in order to help create a family. Then watching the look on the Parents’ faces when they see their baby for the first time is priceless.”
As Ronda prepares for her fourth and final journey, she has some poignant words for those who are considering becoming surrogates themselves.
“I would highly recommend it. The joy and accomplishment that you feel from this – there are no words to describe. Be prepared to feel that you have new family members (if this is the relationship that you prefer), as all of my Intended Parents have become like family to me.”