Check out my article in the new magazine, South Florida Business and Wealth on my personal journey with surrogacy.
You can read the text of my article here:
Gestational Surrogacy – Putting Our Buns In Her Oven
By: Marla Neufeld, Esq.
I was under the impression that once you decide to start a family, you toss the birth control and give it the ‘old college try’. BAM! There you are in your cute maternity jeans, booking your family trip to Disney World. I was surely mistaken. The reality – my husband and I suffered through years of failed infertility treatments, disappointment and expense. We attempted IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilization), injected boxes of hormones, endured multiple miscarriages, and wished upon “good luck” charms. We decided that we had endured enough and yet we didn’t want to give up our dream of having a biological child.
According to Resolve, a leading infertility advocacy organization, infertility is a disease of the reproductive system impacting 7.3 million Americans. Approximately 1/3 is attributed to the female partner, 1/3 to the male partner and 1/3 to a combination of factors or is unexplained – as is our case.
Eventually we reached a juncture and had to reassess our game plan. We had several frozen embryos remaining from a prior cycle. I could try IVF again by means of a FET (frozen embryo transfer) but as much as I wanted to be pregnant my chances of success were very slim; ultimately our doctor approved us for surrogacy.
Although my husband was thrilled, I was initially unsettled with the decision. My pregnant friends made comments like, “at least you won’t get fat or have morning sickness”. This was initially upsetting, yet I ultimately took their comments in stride.
The process moved forward. Finding a surrogacy agency, surrogate, attorney, finalizing medical and psychological testing, and finishing the surrogacy contract took 6 months. During that time, I was able to process everything and was excited about the opportunity. Financial concerns are of paramount importance as surrogacy can range from $60,000 to $150,000. Some expenses include medical costs for IVF, medications, two attorneys: one to write the contract and one to review for the surrogate, surrogate agency fee, medical insurance for the surrogate and reasonable living expenses of the surrogate.
My husband and I interviewed multiple candidates before selecting our amazing surrogate. The first surrogate we disqualified based on moral differences. The second potential surrogate was excluded for she did not pass physical screening requirements. The third time was most delightfully the charm! Her husband and she were warm, friendly, positive, and genuinely excited to help us expand our family.
Following the transfer of embryos, carefully selected by the embryologist, came the waiting. It takes ten days – affectionately known as the 2ww (2 week wait). Fast forward 4 days post procedure. I’m at work on a call and I receive a text of a positive pregnancy test – the voice on the phone becomes a blur.
Finally confirmation by the official pregnancy test and not only is our surrogate pregnant, it indicated that it is with twins. My husband and I were overjoyed. To our amazement, the second trimester rolled around. It was soon time to travel to the surrogate’s hometown to attend the gender ultrasound. We were overjoyed to learn that she was pregnant with twin boys.
During the pregnancy, the surrogate and I communicated daily. For the doctor’s appointments that we couldn’t make, she recorded the ultrasounds and sent photos. I followed up with a call to the doctor’s office to review. Our surrogate was truly incredible during the process and was genuinely excited for our gestating twins.
Prior to my infertility experience, I practiced only transactional law. My infertility/surrogacy journey inspired me to branch out my practice to include surrogacy and reproductive technology law, awarding me the pleasure of helping others. I know it is a daunting prospect when considering surrogacy and I can now help others navigate through the system to understand the process and the legal implications. As a fun side note, we are among celebrities that have ventured down the surrogacy road such as Jimmy Fallon, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Elton John. We received unbelievable support from our family, friends, community and new surrogacy family to help make what seemed impossible become a reality. As my surrogate always said, “It takes teamwork to make the dream work”.
Throughout this journey, my husband and I and our supportive family and friends have grown closer; you truly learn the quality of a relationship when tested with a challenge. This experience shaped my career in inspiring me to practice reproductive technology law which will ultimately help others through infertility. I never would have imagined this scenario but intend to turn it into a positive, constructive path. I look forward to sharing my knowledge and helping others fulfill their dreams.