Surrogacy was laid on my heart not long after our fourth baby was born in 2012. After nearly two years of nursing him, I started my first journey in October 2013. I delivered a beautiful baby boy for my IPs in January 2015. By the end of 2015 I knew I wanted to pursue a second journey, which leads us here….

After posting in a surrogacy support group that I was unhappy with the agency I was with, a fellow surrogate told me about Family Source Consultants. I emailed Zara and was immediately impressed with her level of communication and sincerity. We spoke on the phone within a few days of applying with FSC and it was obvious that she cared about a good match and that was really important to me. I’m a homebirth midwife and I’ve birthed some of my children at home and this was something I also wanted to do on this journey. Zara was open to learning about my desires and finding the perfect IPs who would also embrace this “different” kind of journey.

surrogate spotlight: susan t.I knew my birthing desires would make me harder to match, but Zara never seemed concerned. While it may take a bit longer, I was confident she’d make the perfect match. In March 2016 she sent me P&E’s profile, Intended Fathers from Spain. They had recently applied with FSC and their profile had just become active. Immediately I knew it was them. I knew they were my IPs. I emailed right back, “YES!”. She then sent them my profile and we crossed our fingers that they’d be open to an out of hospital birth. In less than 24 hours I heard back from her and it was a “yes” for them too. Two days later we had our Skype “match meeting” and as they say, the rest is history!

After we officially matched, P&E and I became friends on Facebook and that’s how we kept in touch. We had a private message thread between the three of us and it was so fun to get to know each other that way. Lots and lots of laughs from that thread.

surrogate spotlight: susan t.We transferred one little boy embryo on August 18, 2016 in Chicago. Three days later I got our first positive pregnancy test! Each day brought a darker second line and 5 days post transfer was a digital positive. “Pregnant”. That’s when I let P&E know… we were pregnant! From there the pregnancy went great. We went for regular appointments with our midwife, who happens to to work with me at a local birth center. They came to visit in October last year and it was our first time to meet in person, though it felt like we already knew each other. We had dinner with my family one night and lunch with our birth team another day. Getting to know each other made the journey even sweeter.

Months went by and Baby J grew. We were nearing the end of the journey, which I always find bittersweet. You envision the moment they meet their baby, all while knowing it also means the journey is coming to an end. P&E flew into the States at the end of April in preparation for our May 6th due date.

surrogate spotlight: susan t.I planned a BBQ at our house once E’s parents also arrived in the States from Spain. I invited our birth team and their families, my IFs and their parents, and both my mom and mother-in-law. We had traditional Texas BBQ and it was a really great day hanging out, eating, and gearing up to meet Baby J. E’s parents brought our whole family personalized FC Barcelona soccer jerseys. (Hello, World Champions) ❤️ It was such a fabulous day, we were all more excited than ever to meet Baby J!

From there….we waited! Finally on Tuesday, May 9th it was go time! I had a lot of early labor stuff going on and wasn’t sure it was the real deal, so I held off on letting P&E know right away. I was worried about getting their hopes up only to say, “oops, it’s not actually time yet”. But, as the morning went on and contractions continued to come I went ahead and told them “today is the day!”. I later saw video of them telling E’s mom, who I just LOVE, that I was in labor and she was so excited!!! They decided to get ready and head towards my house just in case, since they were staying about an hour away.

surrogate spotlight: susan t.About 20 minutes after contacting them my labor went into high gear and I suddenly was thrown into active labor that VERY quickly shifted to transition. I knew they wouldn’t make the birth and neither would the professional photographer and videographer I had hired to document the birth. I tried breathing instead of pushing to buy time, but eventually Baby J was READY!! Thankfully my mom lives close by and was here to video the birth and our two midwives and my husband were also with me at my home offering tons of love and support. After about 25 minutes of active labor, I delivered sweet Baby J into my hands in the water, in our bedroom. I have caught (delivered) close to 100 babies and Baby J is by far the most special catch I’ve ever had.

Our videographer arrived just before P&E and their parents and our photographer walked in with them and started shooting immediately. Thankfully she was still able to capture the moment they met their long awaited, already well loved baby boy.

surrogate spotlight: susan t.The next few hours was spent with our families hanging out together in our home. My mom picked up our youngest three children from school early so they could meet the baby. It was really a social gathering and the absolute sweetest kind. Because what’s better than one that’s centered around new life? I nursed Baby J whenever he was hungry and E and Baby J took an herbal bath together. Eventually I performed his newborn exam and then his Grandma got him dressed. We went over discharge instructions in my livingroom with our midwives as I got some yummy Baby J cuddles. And then there were hugs and kisses and the new family left with their new bundle.

My birth team and husband cleaned up the bathroom and bedroom, where I labored and the birth took place. By the time they left there was no sign a birth had even taken place a few hours before. I climbed into bed with my amazing husband, who was so supportive and loving throughout this entire journey and especially during my fast and furious birth, with a smile on my face and Baby J etched into my heart.

surrogate spotlight: susan t.Since the birth, P&E and Baby J came over two days later for a postpartum home visit with our midwife. I was able to nurse him again and give them the little bit of colostrum I had pumped. I then went to the apartment they’re staying at while here with more milk for a newborn photo shoot….(that was so, so sweet! You’ll see, Baby J is soooo adorable!) We plan to have dinner and another postpartum home visit with Baby J before they leave back to Spain. And I may have already started researching plane tickets to Spain! And then the journey will officially be over and I’ll carry all the memories from the last year with me forever.

This journey was more than I can explain. I made not only lifelong friends in P&E, but extended family across the ocean. I’m forever grateful to Zara for truly caring about her clients having amazing journeys and for hearing me and trusting me to have your not so typical birth. She could not have matched me with better IPs. And our coordinator, Ronda, who was an incredible support from day one. I loved how she wanted to learn about midwifery care and asked questions. She always checked in on me and made sure I was doing good. She sent the sweetest gifts along the way that brightened my day. I cannot recommend FSC enough. As an experienced surrogate who was with a different agency early on, I can say, I’d never do another journey with anyone but them.

Thank you to my IFs, P&E, for the most amazing journey. Thank you for trusting me with your baby, allowing me to love him, and taking a chance on doing things “differently”. I feel so honored to have been able to grow, birth, and love Baby J.

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.