Our Surrogacy Sisterhood Day was held on 1 June in Melbourne, running alongside the Surrogacy Conference. This is the second year the Sisterhood Day has run as it’s own event, and the fourth year where we’ve had a gathering of surrogates to get to know each other and support each other. The idea for the Sisterhood Day was born in 2016, and whilst we had a surrogates-only session at the 2017 conference, it wasn’t until 2018 when we pulled it all together in a full program. My thanks go to Canadian Fertility Consulting, and surrogates Rachel, Hayley and Carla for their inspiration and contributions over the past 3 years.
In 2019, we had 33 surrogates attending from all over Australia. We ran a full program of story-telling, learning about the surrogacy process, learning from each other, and preparing for the journey ahead. We were lucky enough to be joined by surrogacy counsellor Katrina Hale, who spent time educating us about the tension and competing interests of the head, heart and hormones during the surrogacy journey. We also had visitors – Ella from Fertility Center of Las Vegas, and Dr Lynn Burmeister from No. 1 Fertility. Anna from Surrogacy Australia talked about the new Support Service, enlightening us as to the benefits of joining as a surrogate, regardless of what point we are at in our journeys. And we were lucky enough to be munching on muffins courtesy of Angela at Fertile Horizons. We also had fruit and chocolate from Henry and Lisa, and pamper packages from Mike, surrogacy community members.
The program included a session about Setting Expectations, which allowed old and new surrogates to consider the complex aspects of a surrogacy journey and what issues we need to discuss with our intended parents at different times. You can read more about Setting Expectations, and download your own template to use within your team on this post.
We also did some work on pursuing happiness within, and beyond, our surrogacy journeys. Beyond Surrogacy happens to everyone and every team – the surrogate is no longer the surrogate, and the intended parents become parents. The relationships and dynamics inevitably change, and this can be challenging in different ways. The surrogates spent some time thinking about their purpose and happiness beyond surrogacy, and how we can look after ourselves so that we have a foundation and life beyond surrogacy. You can read more about that in this post.
We also did some goal setting for the Fourth Trimester, based on the learnings from the Beyond Surrogacy session, and Katrina’s Head Heart Hormones session. Surrogates can feel a little lost in the fourth trimester, not having a baby to care for and their friends, the intended parents, being so busy with the new baby. Setting achievable goals for the fourth trimester can help ensure that we’re looking after our own physical and mental wellbeing and move through the rollercoaster of feelings and changes.
We have big plans for the 2020 Surrogacy Sisterhood event, which will hopefully extend beyond the one day. It was so lovely being in the same place with people we’ve otherwise only met online. Surrogacy is a great leveller – we know each other, we understand each other, and often without having met each other in person. I am excited for where the Sisterhood goes from here and so thankful for everyone who came along and contributed to our special day.
The 2019 Surrogacy Sisterhood was proudly supported by the following sponsors: