For our first Surrogate feature of 2021, we sat down (virtually) with Surrogate Influencer Julie! Julie is in the third trimester of her first surrogacy journey and loving it! Julie is currently a surrogate for 2 fantastic soon-to-be dads! We have loved getting to know Julie and have enjoyed following her journey through her professional photos! Julie is a photographer and has been documenting her journey with Circle through a series of stunning photos, some of which you’ll see below!
Surrogate Feature: Welcome Julie!
Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a single mom of two amazing teens (13 and 15), living in Minneapolis, MN. I went to school for elementary education and ended up as a lead infant teacher at a Montessori school for over 10 years after college. As my own kids moved on from preschool to elementary school, I left my teaching career to start my own photography business and be more present as a mom. Merging my love of photography with my love of babies, children, and families was a perfect outlet for both of my passions, and the freedom it afforded me and my family was priceless.
When did you first consider becoming a surrogate and why?
My first pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage almost 16 years ago and was one of the hardest moments of my life. Through that experience, I was connected with women all over the country who had experienced loss or infertility. I became very close with many of them, and even though subsequent pregnancies were successful and uneventful, their stories left a deep impact on me. When my best friend later experienced infertility, and I saw the toll it took on her firsthand, I knew that I wanted to help a couple become a family and began researching surrogacy.
For your journey, what did your support system look like? Did you have an extensive network to look to for guidance and support? Did you lean more heavily on your family members and friends?
Being single, I didn’t have a traditional support system, but I’m also extremely independent. I went into this knowing I was solid on my own, but luckily, I am surrounded with supportive and amazing people. My parents, my kids, and my closest friends have been my biggest cheerleaders and have been with me every step of the way. When I announced my journey on my social media, I was flooded with more support and love that I ever could have hoped for! Not one person has ever said anything negative or unkind, and I feel so blessed and uplifted and cheered on. Hopefully, my journey has inspired someone else to explore surrogacy themselves!
What was different about your surrogate pregnancy from your pregnancies with your children?
There were two big differences between my own pregnancies and my surrogate pregnancy. The first was that my last pregnancy was over 12 years ago. I was in my 20’s, married, working full time, and I don’t really remember much, to be honest! I joke all the time that pregnancy amnesia is a real thing! With this pregnancy, I was almost 41 at the time of the transfer, and aside from some vague memories, much of it felt new again! I have also been pregnant with my surrobabe during the pandemic, not working outside the home, and home-schooling kids doing distance learning! So, two completely different scenarios.
The second difference was how much more anxiety and concern I felt with this pregnancy, knowing I was carrying for another couple. I wanted to make sure everything I put in and on my body was safe, and that this baby was as taken care of as much as possible! Ultrasounds, and just day-to-day worries, are more nerve wracking, because you just want the best for the intended parents! The mental side of surrogacy surprised me but was manageable and worth every second.
You started the surrogacy process prior to COVID hitting the US, but it did impact your journey. How has COVID impacted the process?
My medical screening was in March 2020, right as the world was shutting down. There was a lot of concern and uncertainty in the beginning of whether I should even fly to my appointment, and most of my plans were drastically changed. I had planned on flying into NYC first and meeting my intended parents for a few days before my screening. That was changed to a direct flight to my fertility clinic and mostly staying quarantined in my hotel. After my medical screening, I needed a couple local procedures to clear me, but all elective surgery had shut down. We had a 3.5 month wait before I could schedule what I needed, and that was hard on all of us. But my intended parents could not have been more patient and understanding and wonderful. After that point, our journey progressed pretty quickly! I was medically cleared in August 2020 and my first, successful transfer was in September 2020. Since that time, the only impact Covid has had on our journey was that the intended parents could not attend my 20-week anatomy scan as planned. Luckily, I worked with the most amazing clinics and all allowed video chats for appointments and ultrasounds, so the intended parents could be a part of every step.
You chose to work with an agency for your journey. How would you describe your relationship with the different team members at Circle that you work with on a regular basis?
When I first researched agencies for surrogacy, the one I kept coming back to was Circle. I loved how transparent all their information was on their website and it seemed to match the best with my situation and needs. Once I applied, I was so impressed with how quickly everyone responded and how fast the process proceeded. I have had the best team members! Sarah was my matching coordinator and took so much time to listen to my preferences and needs and often called me to go over various profiles instead of just emailing. Once I was matched, my coordinator, Ghizlane, and my social worker Alana, have always been accessible, kind, competent, and I always feel very taken care of as a surrogate. I find the amount of support exactly right for my needs, but also know if I needed more, it would be available.
You have teenage children. How much did you tell them about what was happening? Was this a difficult conversation? Have they been interested in the different parts of the surrogacy journey?
I have the most easy going, laid back, amazing children. They were totally on board when I first discussed this with them and were completely supportive. We all read my intended parent profiles together and discussed whether they were a good fit for our family. Having older kids was great because I found their input really valuable. My daughter was able to come with me to my transfer, and that was a really special time for us! Since I’ve been pregnant, they have been appropriately supportive, but also not very interested in that special teen way. Overall, I absolutely love having older, more independent children during this journey. They are helpful when needed, and I also have more time to rest when needed! They are very excited to meet the intended parents when they arrive for the birth and hold the baby! And we are already planning a trip to see them after the birth.
What has been your favorite part of being a surrogate?
This has been one of the best experiences of my life. I had no idea how impactful it would be. I think part of it has been the sense of purpose for me and the knowledge of giving selflessly to help create a family. The other, bigger part has been getting to know my intended parents and the bond we have formed. I tell them all the time how lucky I am that we were matched so perfectly. They have been my rock. I also have thoroughly loved being pregnant again, knowing this is likely the last time, and being able to relish every part of it. They say pregnant women glow, and I feel it!
Well Julie, we couldn’t agree more!
It was refreshing to get the unique perspective of a surrogate who applied prior to quarantine taking effect, but whose journey had to accommodate some of the COVID-19 obstacles. Being able to hear from surrogates about their unique experiences makes us even more grateful to be able to work with these amazing women like Julie! This feedback also helps us ensure that future surrogates have a great experience where they feel the same level of appreciation and support!
Thank you, Julie, for sharing your story and experience with us! For those of you who would like to continue to follow Julie’s surrogacy journey, please follow Circle Surrogacy on Instagram where we have been documenting her journey! If you’re interesting in learning more about surrogacy, or are already ready to apply, you can do so on our website!