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One Year On

By |2019-01-21T10:43:39+00:00January 21st, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Blog, gay dads, motherhood, sisterhood, surrogacy, surrogate, traditional surrogacy|

Surro-baby, Darcey, turned one last weekend. Her dads threw her a party, of course, and like all first birthdays, it was more of an anniversary for the parents than it was a party for the baby. An anniversary of survival, of joy and frustration and tears (hers, theirs, and mine!) and love and learning about each other and the journey of parenthood. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, and relieved it’s not me living it!

So often in the last year, I’ve been asked about my surrogacy journey and specifically about my relationship with Darcey and her parents. So much of what we know about surrogacy is what we see in the media, and usually that’s based on commercial arrangements overseas. People are curious whether I still see Darcey, and whether I have a bond with her and what my relationship is with her parents. So, in light of it being my one year anniversary and Darcey’s first birthday, here’s my reflections on the last twelve months.

The first days after Darcey’s birth was a bit of blur of hormones and overwhelming joy and love. The oxytocin was flowing and we (Darcey’s dads, myself and my partner, Troy) were in a bit of a bubble of love. It was lovely! It was a bit overwhelming because I felt like there wasn’t a guide book for how any of us were supposed to feel or act. I also felt like a bit of a circus act, because we had lots of people sending their well wishes and demanding details of the birth and the surrogacy arrangement, and midwives at the hospital ‘checking in’ to see whether I was falling apart. We were relieved to leave the hospital and back to our own comfort zones.

The first weeks were a bit of a mixture of emotions and activity – Troy and I getting on with our home lives, getting the kids ready for kinder and school, and work, and me recovering from birth and expressing milk for Darcey. And of course, lots of visits with Darcey and her dads. I found these weeks a bit strange, and as I like to feel in control, that lack of routine or consistency was a little unsettling. I was rather sad that our surrogacy journey was ‘over’ and I didn’t want it to end, because I’d had such a lovely time. I even offered to carry another baby for them immediately. Let’s say, the oxytocin ride was amazing, but quite the rollercoaster!

The biggest frustration for me was not being able to drive, and my body not moving the way I wanted it to. I had a caesarean section, and whilst I knew intellectually that my body was recovering from major surgery, I was frustrated that I was sore and tired and slow. My youngest child was learning to ride a bike, and I couldn’t move fast enough to keep up. I had to keep reminding myself that I’d just had a baby, because part of my brain hadn’t caught up to reality. It is one of the amazing things about the body and the mind – of course I knew that I’d had a baby, but it didn’t stop me wanting to get back to normal as soon as possible. I’d never wanted to care for a newborn again, so why couldn’t I get back to my usual routine?

Over the next few months, it was like a gradual ‘weaning’ process for me and Darcey and her dads. In the early weeks we would see each other ever day, then every few days, and then once a week, and then once, sometimes twice a fortnight. They were enjoying their newborn, and I was finding my way as the ‘ex’ surrogate. What was my role, now that I wasn’t pregnant and had no job to do? It was also confusing, and sometimes confronting.  Sometimes I resent the impact that surrogacy has had on me and my family, knowing that they got the baby and I got…a postpartum body and hair loss. I’m still dealing with the hair loss, which bothers me more than I expected it to.

Even with lots of other things happening in my life, I still had lots of processing and thinking to do about the surrogacy, and the birth, and Darcey and her dads. I have access to an amazing surrogacy counsellor, Katrina Hale, who regularly debriefs with me about all this stuff, and I also had lots of support from other surrogates. Less than 60 surrogacy babies are born in Australia each year; having friends who understand the feelings and thoughts is so necessary and appreciated. Traditional surrogacy is all the more complex, and traditional surrogates are all the more rare.

During that time, I was able to put a lot of my creative energy into other things, including creating the Podcast, and organising the Surrogates Sisterhood Day. I also set myself a running goal, to run 10km at the Carman Women’s Fun Run in December. Having other things to focus on was really useful.

My relationship with Darcey’s dads has changed, and grown. I spent a lot of time in the early months second-guessing why they wanted to spend time with me, and sometimes I still do. I worry that they only spend time with me because I gave them a baby; that they feel they have a debt to repay. And they probably do feel indebted to me, but that’s not a good foundation for friendship. I remember feeling surprised that they seemed to like spending time with me; perhaps I thought they would stop once the baby was here? Katrina reckons there are two certainties with surrogacy – the surrogate worries that she will be abandoned. And the intended parents worry that she’ll keep the baby. I admit I was surprised when I fell into the cliche. These days we have a new normal; we spend time together as families and I babysit for Darcey occasionally. I still worry that there is a power-imbalance in our relationship; that they will forever feel they need to express their appreciation, and worry that they’ll ever offend me. I think most surrogates find the power-imbalance really uncomfortable.

As for my relationship with Darcey, it took me a while to realise that it is a journey and not a destination. I remember wanting to know what she would think of me when she’s 10, or 15, or 25. Would she know who I am? Would she recognise me? I would see her face and be struck by how familiar she seemed, as if I am surprised by the resemblance she has to me or my kids. Even now, when I see a photo of Darcey in my newsfeed, I draw breath. I know that face! Oh wait, of course I do, it’s Darcey. Katrina thinks it must be a primal response, which some donors and donor-conceived children also experience when they meet each other. Like we’re recognising ourselves in the other person, perhaps. But it took me a while to accept that it is a perpetual journey; that I don’t know what my relationship with Darcey will look like in the future, and that’s ok. I’ve found comfort in accepting that I have limited control over it, because I don’t have all the answers. And at some point she’ll decide what she needs from me and what our relationship is to be.

These days, I spend time with Darcey and her dads regularly. She’ll know me as Aunty Sarah, and of course she’ll know her story. But whilst I recognise her as being from me, and the baby I carried, I don’t feel like her parent. I don’t feel like I need to take on a parenting role for her. I don’t feel bonded to her the way I do to my kids. She looks for her dads when they leave the room – and I find that affirming, because I know her primary attachments are to the people who are her parents, just as we intended. My relationship with Darcey is different; more than an aunt-niece relationship, but not the same as a mother-daughter relationship.

The first birthday and the anniversary of me giving birth feel like two separate events, both worthy of reflection and acknowledgement. “It’s complex” is the best descriptor I can come up with. There is no box that any of this fits in. I feel some peace as we meet this milestone – this chapter  is closing, whilst the book is still being written. I have other things to focus on and surrogacy, whilst sometimes all-consuming, is not a career (unless you’re a surrogacy lawyer, of course!).

There have been multiple comments from Darcey’s dads over the year about how lucky they feel to have her in their lives, and plenty of people reflecting on how lucky Darcey is to have her dads. And I agree on both fronts. But in everything that we’ve been through in the past year, and how much we’ve shared over the past 3 years, I must say that I am the luckiest person. I am so privileged to have been a part of this journey and to be a part of Darcey’s life, and for her dads to have let me be part of theirs.

Surrogacy is incredibly complex, a perpetual journey, and moreso than I ever imagined. My life is richer and I am so grateful for it. There is such a special sweetness in participating in creation.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Egg Donation: Seeing Yourself In Someone Else’s Child

By |2018-12-29T01:16:50+00:00December 17th, 2018|Categories: Blog, egg donation, infertility, ivf, motherhood, parenthood|

My partner and I are parents-through-IVF; survivors of infertility who inevitably became overbearing parents to our precious offspring. Archie was born after 7 embryo transfers, and he was our lucky last. Shortly after Archie’s second birthday, we conceived his brother, Rafael. Without IVF this time. Fertility, as most infertility survivors know, is a numbers game; a fickle friend who changes over time and is never guaranteed.

I decided, when I was going through IVF, that I would like to pay our (relatively good) luck forward and one day be an egg donor. After Raf was born, I investigated it further, and slid down the rabbit hole of google searches and online forums, and eventually offered my eggs to another couple. I decided I wanted to give unconditionally; that the recipients didn’t need to prove their worth to me. I had minimal criteria – they they live in Victoria, for the sake of convenience, and that they be prepared to tell their offspring about their donor conception. For my part, I was committed to being available to any donor-offspring and their parents, for their sake and for Archie and Raf to know their donor-siblings (or ‘diblings’ as they are sometimes called). We know from research with donor-conceived children that they cope better with the knowledge of their donor-origins if they are told early and with honesty and openness; gone are the days when it is considered better to keep it a secret. In Victoria, donor-conceived adults can now access records about their conception, including the identity of their donor and other donor-conceived people related to them.

So I donated, to two couples, and one of them went on to conceive a baby who is now 2 years old. People are often curious about what it’s like being a donor, and about my relationship with the child and their parents. “Is it weird, seeing him and knowing he’s your genetic child?” Well, it’s a good question. Before he was conceived, we’d done all the donor counselling and considered the consequences of what I was doing. We’d talked about it with family, including our two kids. For them, it was pretty easy to understand – mummy gave her eggs to help another family have a baby. No doubt as they get older, they’ll have more questions, as they understand more about genetics and family.

For my part, I was excited to help someone have a child, and excited for them when they announced a pregnancy and then the birth. I visited him in hospital when he was a few days old, and remember thinking ‘what a momentous day, to meet this much-wanted child that is connected to me but not mine.’ But the reality was less exciting. I mean, it was lovely. But my only feelings were for his wellbeing and for his parents’ happiness. I was curious, at first, to see whether he looked like me or my children – my initial thoughts were that he looked a lot like his dad, and a bit like my dad. But I don’t feel bonded to him the way I am to my kids.

This kid, that comes from my egg who is not my child, is now two years old. I was at the park the other day, with my kids, and a little boy raced past me on his trike. My first thought was ‘I know that face!’ and then I realised that it was, in fact, the child that my friends conceived with my egg. He is not particularly interested in me, and I expect that may change when he is older if he has questions about me or his half-siblings. In the meantime, I am happy just seeing his parents enjoy him and grateful that I had the opportunity to help them grow their family.

Have you considered becoming a donor, or do you need a donor? Do you have questions about the donation process? Get in touch!

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 29: Rebecca F

By |2019-01-18T04:52:42+00:00October 30th, 2018|Categories: Australia, infant loss, motherhood, pregnancy loss, Surrogacy Podcast|

Rebecca is an intended parent, having come to surrogacy after the birth of her second child. Rebecca found her surrogate in her good friend Katy, after she posted about her journey on Facebook to update family and friends about their situation.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episde 26: Renee (Part 2)

By |2019-01-18T04:52:00+00:00October 9th, 2018|Categories: Australia, infertility, ivf, motherhood, Surrogacy Podcast|

Renee shares her second surrogacy journey with us, with different intended parents. Renee and her partner approached the journey with the benefit of their first experience, but they were met with many challenges along the way. Their friendship with their intended parents is strong, but as you’ll hear, surrogacy is about so much more than just having a baby.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 25: Gareth

By |2019-01-18T04:51:42+00:00October 2nd, 2018|Categories: Australia, chronic illness, fatherhood, grief and loss, motherhood, Surrogacy Podcast|

Gareth became a father through surrogacy in January 2018, with the birth of his son Rixon. Gareth’s surrogate was Jess, who was a great friend of Gareth’s wife, Bec. Sadly, Bec passed away during the pregnancy due to complications arising from cystic fibrosis. This is a beautiful and tragic story of Gareth and Bec’s story of becoming parents, and of Bec’s legacy.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 21: Marnie B

By |2019-01-18T04:47:51+00:00September 4th, 2018|Categories: Australia, interstate surrogacy, motherhood, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogate|

Marnie B is a gestational surrogate for interstate intended parents. Marnie and her team did a mammoth amount of research and preparation prior to proceeding with the arrangement, and the preparation is paying off. If you are thinking about becoming a surrogate, I recommend listening to Marnie’s interview and taking note of all her amazing wisdom.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 19: Charmaine

By |2019-01-18T04:47:32+00:00August 21st, 2018|Categories: Australia, finding a surrogate, infertility, ivf, motherhood, pregnancy loss, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogate|

Charmaine was a gestational surrogate and birthed James for his parents in 2017. Not everything was sunshine and rainbows, and Charmaine has a lot of wisdom for other intended parents and surrogates.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 14: Henry & Lisa

By |2019-01-18T03:26:40+00:00July 17th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, egg donation, fatherhood, finding a surrogate, motherhood, pregnancy loss, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogacy process|

Henry & Lisa are well-known in the surrogacy community, both for their support of other intended parents and surrogates, but also for their senses of humour. In this episode, we chat about the upcoming birth of their baby, conceived through egg donation and surrogacy, and how they’ve traversed the infertility terrain.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 11: Hillary

By |2019-01-18T03:26:14+00:00June 26th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Canada, cancer survivor, induced lactation, motherhood, overseas, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast|

Hillary survived cancer as a single mother, and when she met her prince charming years later, they decided to grow their family through surrogacy.

I am always inspired and humbled when I hear stories from women who have often gone through infertility, loss or survived cancer before turning to surrogacy. Hillary went through so much, and her tenacity and strength is amazing.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 6: Felicity (Part 2)

By |2019-01-18T03:24:27+00:00May 22nd, 2018|Categories: America, Canada, infant loss, infertility, motherhood, overseas, pregnancy loss, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast|

This is Part 2 of my interview with Felicity. Felicity is a parent through surrogacy in the US after suffering infertility and loss.
Make sure to listen to Part 1 first!

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 6: Felicity (Part 1)

By |2019-01-18T03:24:17+00:00May 22nd, 2018|Categories: America, Canada, chronic illness, grief and loss, infant loss, infertility, motherhood, overseas, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast|

This is Part 1 of my interview with Felicity, a parent through surrogacy. Felicity and her partner suffered with infertility, miscarriage and the loss of her baby daughter Lily, before eventually having a child through surrogacy in the US.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 4: Bec

By |2019-01-18T02:06:41+00:00May 8th, 2018|Categories: infertility, ivf, motherhood, parenthood, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast|

In this episode, I speak with Bec. Bec was a gestational surrogate and gave birth to Holly in 2016, for an interstate couple. Bec speaks with candour and humour about her journey and has lots of insights for intended parents and surrogates alike.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 1: Introducing Sarah

By |2019-01-18T01:44:44+00:00April 5th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, finding a surrogate, gay dads, infertility, ivf, motherhood, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogacy process, traditional surrogacy, victoria|

In this first episode of The Australian Surrogacy Podcast, you’ll hear from me, Sarah Jefford, and about why I decided to make a surrogacy podcast.

I am a surrogate and a surrogacy lawyer living in Melbourne with my family. In 2015 I decided to become a surrogate, and in January 2018 I gave birth to a baby girl, Darcey, for her two dads Mike and Nate.

You’ll hear all about my journey to becoming a surrogate, as well as about me as a surrogacy lawyer.

 

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

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This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.